Brian Wilson Presents “Smile” (2004) Includes feature-length documentary “Beautiful Dreamer”

by | Jun 3, 2005 | DVD & Blu-ray Video Reviews | 0 comments

Brian Wilson Presents “Smile” (2004)
Includes feature-length documentary “Beautiful Dreamer”

Produced and arranged by Brian Wilson
Lyrics: Van Dyke Parks
Studio: BriMel/Rhino Home Video R2 970415
Video: Enhanced for 16:9 widescreen (concert); 4:3 full screen (documentary)
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, Dolby Digital stereo mix, PCM Stereo (concert only), Isolated soundtrack (documentary only)
Extras: Aftershow featurette at London premiere, Interview highlights,
Theatrical trailer, Mrs. O’Leary’s Cow performance, Solo piano by Brian
Wilson, Photo gallery, Recording sessions featurette, “Heroes &
Villians,” Winner of contest video, Big Smile poster
Length: 240 minutes
Rating: *****

What a kick!  I’d heard about Smiles years ago.  Brian Wilson
and Beach Boys were the main U.S. rock group the Beatles looked to as
being on the cutting edge, and Wilson was stimulated to new creativity
by hearing the Beatle’s Revolver just as the Beatles later were hearing
the Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds. We’ve heard about Wilson’s drug and mental
problems and years of being out of the music business, but the
documentary on Brian Wilson and the story of Smile puts it all close up
and into perspective. Even someone with only a perfunctory interest in
this pop figurehead should find the story compelling and worth
watching/hearing. There are many moments with Brian alone speaking with
great honesty directly to the camera.

The main thrust of the story is the effort of many of Brian’s friends
and musicians on both sides of the Atlantic to get him to finally
finish his abandoned major concept album Smile (which ws supposed to be
his answer to the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper!)  and to premiere it some
45 years later.  Wilson had plenty of struggle to get to that
point, and the film has the viewer sharing some of his
trepidation.  Scenes of the writing and rehearsals are more
interesting to watch than I’ve typically found this sort of
thing.   Even backstage at the Royal Festival Hall in London
when he’s greeted and hugged by Paul McCartney, Wilson still is glum
and on edge. But shortly into the performance he starts to display on
himself the very name of his opera major.

The 5.1 surround mix is very involving and fun.  The childlike
approach of Wilson is captured in his happier moments and in several of
the songs, in which his band participates fully – wearing little
firemen hats for Mrs. O’Leary’s Cow, or shaking vegetables at one
another for Vega-Tables. (Wilson was ahead of his time in focusing on
the topic of healthier eating.) One of the tunes, Heroes and Villains,
has a strong emotional connotation for Wilson which is explored. 
Aside from Surf’s Up and In Blue Hawaii there’s really not a lot of the
Beach Boys left in Smile.  Among my personal favs in the 20 tunes
here were Barnyard, Wind Chimes, and  of course the grand
finale  blowout on Good Vibrations – which would put a smile on
the most morose map you could muster up!  I think this pop concert
video is right up there with the two best I’ve seen: The Last Waltz
and  Concert for George!

– John Henry

Related Reviews
Logo Jazz Detective Deep Digs Animated 01
Logo Pure Pleasure