Toomorrow (1970) (part 4 of 10)
While Olivia is waking up Karl, we get the blonde coming out of the cupboard, now wearing great big Smart Girl glasses. The credits call her Suzanne, but Benny calls her Susan, so I’m going to go with Smart Girl. Ambiguity should be no problem, because there’s bound to be a maximum of one of those in this movie. Smart Girl, by the way, is played by Tracey Crisp, who also played Heather, one of the SMERSH agents who helps disrobe Sir James Bond in Casino Royale—making her the third Repeat Offender from this movie. This wasn’t even Crisp’s first bad sci-fi movie: she was also in The Projected Man (1966), which set the gold standard for totally wacked-out ‘60s British sci-fi.
Smart Girl chides Benny for always hiding his women in the closet, which just has so many possible meanings. But chiefly we’re establishing that Benny is a slut here. Every character in a movie this dumb is only allowed one personality characteristic, so let’s take stock: (a) Observer: contemptuous of humans; (b) Olivia: wakes up slowly (wheee!! what a radical character she is!); (c) Benny: slut; (d) Smart Girl: smart girl. I can’t wait to see what Karl’s thing is, can you?
Karl is just coming in from an all-night student protest (the placard over his shoulder says, “PARTICIPATION IN ADMINISTRATION!”) and he’s so exhausted that he thinks it’s still Thursday, but really it’s Friday. There’s a big drum kit in his room, to clue us in he’s the drummer. We didn’t need to see the guitar in Benny’s room. Lead guitarists are always sluts.
So: (e) Karl: thinks it’s Thursday? Hmm, I guess we should wait.
Up in Vic’s room, Olivia is frying eggs and talking about the weird dream she had last night (remember this For Later). Vic is taking a bath, and Benny bustles in, saying there’s no time to run a new one, and trades places with Vic. Ew. I’m glad I’ve never been in so much of a hurry that I had to use second-hand bathwater. Karl comes in and takes an egg-and-toast sandwich from Olivia and eats it while shaving with his electric razor, which doesn’t seem safe, while Benny scrubs his socks in the bath. All through this they’re engaged in a conversation about PARTICIPATION IN ADMINISTRATION which is so involving I can’t even bear to transcribe it for you.
Olivia rushes out to change out of her short nightie and overcoat ensemble, which I’m sure some of you will think is a shame, and the boys start playing with Vic’s “tonalizer,” which Vic has just gotten fixed. (Those wacky Brits call it a “tonaliser.” Shows what they know.) It’s this movie’s MacGuffin, so pay attention. Evidently it’s this amp/synth/keyboard thing that Vic has constructed, which—but, yeah, we already found out it creates healing vibrations that cure dickless aliens of Ear E.D., so what else do we need to know?
Vic has made up a not-very-huge TOOMORROW poster for their performance at “the Festival” tonight. Evidently, it’s never occurred to them before to put up a sign at their gigs that says who they are. But get this: Benny points to the extra “O” and suggests that it says who they are is a bunch of illiterates. But Vic says he did this on purpose so they’d stand out as being “different.” Vic clearly aced the “How to Stand Out in a Crowd” correspondence course from Dan Quayle University (motto: augenda desipientia est, “stupidity must be propagated”).
So here, we’re actually witnessing the very birth, the moment of inception of Toomorrow, the band. Up until today, they were called Tomorrow, I guess. Or possibly they didn’t have a name at all, which I guess explains why they didn’t have a sign, albeit in a really retarded way.
But then Vic made a poster for them for the Generic Unnamed Festival, misspelled the name of the band because, I dunno, he’s been thinking about boobs for three weeks straight, and decided to pass it off as a brilliant marketing ploy. Awesome. I’ll bet when he plays the wrong notes, he says he’s “experimenting with new key signatures,” too.
Karl is into it, though.
Which? I can understand. I’ve always felt like I’ve had not enough morrow, personally.
We cut to the MacGuffinizer being loaded into a tiny trailer attached to Olivia’s tiny, tiny car, a lime green and white number festooned with flower decals. (Sorry, what year was this made?) The four of them pile in and tear off into undercranked footage of them careening through the streets of London’s Chelsea district, with Karl popped out of the sunroof because he’s the big tall black American dude.
Then suddenly we cut to hilariously awful rear-projected footage that instantly reminds me who our director is. Vic reveals that he promised his girlfriend, Amy, that he’d take her to the ballet tonight to celebrate her birthday. Karl suggests bringing her to the Festival, since there “she’ll have the grooviest freak-out of the year—five groups to turn her on and a loverboy to turn her off!” Wait, what?
Unfortunately Amy digs classical, not pop, which… is why she’s dating a guy in a pop band. Vic whines that Amy won’t understand if he has to break their date on her birthday, gig or no gig. So: (f) Vic: whipped. Excellent. This Amy’s birthday thing, by the way, is the “C” plot, if the “A” plot is the aliens trying to get the MacGuffinizer and the “B” plot is, sorry to say, PARTICIPATION IN ADMINISTRATION. Now here’s the kicker. You know what drives most of the action for the next hour? That’s right, the “C” plot. I can’t wait for the sequel, where Karl spends the whole movie trying to get to the dentist for a molar extraction, only to be constantly prevented from doing so by polar bears and corporate assassins.
Benny insists that they have to play the Festival, since it will give them gigs and “bread” straight through to finals. Plus, maybe the guys from Satin Records will be there! As they arrive at school and get out of the car, Benny promises that Olivia is going to talk to Amy, woman to woman. Olivia is like, “I am?”
Inside at an admin desk, Benny sweet-talks Doris Bell into accepting a phone call for him later, even though it’s against the rules. As proof of his earnestness, he gives her flowers he’s just stolen from a planter outside. Hmm, should we add “scamp” to his character description? It’s kind of built into “slut,” though.
Vic walks in on Amy’s ballet rehearsal, gesturing from an upper-level walkway that they should meet at lunch, and then Benny joins him and they start singing “Happy Birthday” to her. Yay, another dollar for Patty and Mildred Hill! But the ballet teacher frowns at them with arms akimbo, which causes them to tail off, chastened and chagrined.
The next space along is jazz dancing, I guess. A blonde girl named Fran yells up at Benny about how she had to dance with herself last night, but Benny claims he had a “rehearsal.” Uh huh. I guess you could call it a rehearsal. (Benny: “How do I insert this into you again?” Smart Girl: “Like this.” Benny: “Oh yeah, now I remember. Can we, uh, take it from the top?”)
Now we’re in a class, where a Hot Teacher in a bun and professor’s robes is writing musical notation on a blackboard. She’s lecturing in a very precise accent about contrapuntal structure in Wagner’s Die Meistersinger, so she must be a brainy type. She turns around and—whoa, hey, it’s Smart Girl! I knew there could only be one in this movie.
Vic, Olivia, and Karl rush in and get seats unobserved (Olivia also gets a kiss from some guy in a lilac shirt, which earns him a smack on the head with her notebook), but when Benny rushes in, touching or making kissy faces at literally every girl in range as he makes his way across the row, one of his past conquests yanks his chair out from under him just as he’s sitting down, and he and the chair clatter loudly to the floor. Smart Girl zings him about starting class without him, and they exchange “Oh yeah, we fucked” glances at each other.
You know, I could swear all this had a plot a few minutes ago. Something about aliens?
Seriously, though. What is this movie about? All the stuff in the room and the car was like The Monkees with a Chick and a Black Dude (Karl even has a wool hat!). But the Monkees were never this oversexed.