It's New Year's Eve 1982 and to celebrate venue owner Max Wolfe (Allen Garfield) is holding a big concert, but he has reckoned without the strongarm tactics of multi-milionaire businessman Colin Beverly (Ed Begley Jr) who arrives at his office with a proposition: move into stadium arenas for his shows, and allow Beverly to buy up his place so he can knock it down and build an office block. Wolfe is horrified at the suggestion and orders him out, but so enraged does he become that his heart starts playing up; if he dies, then the venue is lost, something his conniving nephew Sammy (Miles Chapin) is keen to see...
Get Crazy was a film designed to do for the celebrated Fillmore East what the director Allan Arkush's previous film, Rock 'n' Roll High School, had done for The Ramones. The acts here were fictional, so it was the atmosphere of the concert depicted we were meant to appreciate, though as it turned out this didn't come about and the film slipped into obscurity, in spite of some decent-sized names in the cast, or at least some cult stars who might have brought in a certain type of audience. However, over the years since its initial failure, some have found it worthwhile and count it as their own personal discovery.
It's really an anything goes comedy that packs in gags no matter how over the top they may be, and a fair few of them raise a laugh. In an ensemble cast, Daniel Stern is supposed to be the main character, Neil Allen, who works at the theatre and has just fallen in love with Willy Loman, no, not the chap out of Death of a Salesman, but a young lady played by T.V. actress Gail Edwards who he has regular fantasies about, but pretty innocent ones such as imagining himself as Tarzan to her Jane. Yet romance is far from the rest of the plotline's mind.
It's rock which powers the narrative, so after a fair amount of lead up, the concert goes ahead. However, Beverly will not be put off and he persuades Sammy to place a bomb in the building, although he might not have to bother because a fire has broken out. On stage and in the crowd they are oblivious and all they want to do is party, which they do when a Mick Jagger-esque British rock star with the unlikely name of Reggie Wanker headlines. You can't imagine a genuine singer getting too far in his native country with a name like that, but he's played with comic aplomb by Malcolm McDowell, so all is forgiven.
Also appearing are the likes of the perhaps inevitable Paul Bartel and Mary Woronov, sixties pop pin-up Fabian, and sixties non-pin-up Lou Reed here proving that maybe he had a sense of humour after all - or maybe he simply followed the script which saw him spoofing Bob Dylan and taking the world's longest taxi ride to the concert. In truth, it's a very odd mix of people that turn up in this, amidst spaceship models, a giant walking joint, and a lot of stage diving and crowd surfing, and it's easy to see why, with so much packed in, it was all too possible to tune out after a while and let it wash over you to little effect, as tended to happen back in 1983. But nostalgia is a powerful thing, and now Get Crazy can feel the benefit of it, among whatever fans it has accumulated at any rate. Where else can you see McDowell in conversation with his penis?