Named after the Who's 1965 hit, The Kids Are Alright, a "rockumentary" was released in 1979, shortly following the death of drummer Keith Moon. The film opens with a bang-well, a smash, really. The Who was a band famous for completely destroying their instruments, and their first American TV appearance was no exception to their shocking practice.

The Kids Are Alright commences with the Who's 1967 appearance on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour. Less than five minutes into the film, we have guitars smashed, drums blown up, an unconscious Bette Davis (she fainted into fellow guest Mickey Rooney's arms after watching the Who's spectacle), and at least one half-deaf guitarist. America had been introduced to the Who, and they weren't the four loveable lads from Liverpool that England had given them three years prior.

The rest of the film follows (not chronologically at all) The Who's career from their first TV appearances up until their last concert with Moon. Through concert films, interviews, and a few Monkees-ish romps, this "collage" of sorts looks through all The Who's phases of work. Although not jumbled, it's fun to watch episodes from various phases of Who history, all crashing up against each other, somehow made coherent.

Unlike most documentaries on anything, this film isn't glammed up, nor does it try to make the band seem like something that they're not. This film is director and Who fan Jeff Stein's vision of an astounding band, visualized as only a Who fan can. Stein showcases the many components of the band, from their prime musicianship to their frenzied humour. One thing clearly stands out in The Kids Are Alrightt: The Who were one of the premier live bands of rock & roll, and it was ironic that the film marked the end of the band as most people knew it.

Rather than sappy memoir, though, the film sways more towards being a true-life Spinal Tap (with better music). The moments that make the film are the humourous ones. Like when the usually-stoic John Entwistle takes his liberty with Roger Daltrey's gold records by using them as ammo in some skeet-shooting antics, and guests like Ringo Starr pop in occasionally in this anthology of video to comment about the band.

The Who gallop headlong through a rehearsal of the Beach Boys/Jan and Dean's 'Barbara Ann' with Moon singing and then promptly collapse into hysterics at their inadequacy at playing it. One recurring piece features a TV interview with the group, the last clip ending with the group undressing as a terrified Russell Harty looks on.

Of course, there are the over-the-top interviews with Keith Moon, and more crazy antics from...Keith Moon, and some more hiliarity from....um, Keith Moon. Even as a 'band' documentary, The Kids Are Alright's spotlight was stolen by Moon. Ending with a fiery live performance of "Won't Get Fooled Again", the film captures every movement of the Who's career, from their early, fairly embarrassing moments as a Mod band, to the magnificence of their mid-70's performances.

That performance would be, unknown to anyone, of course, Keith Moon's last performance with the Who. He died September 7, 1978, only 4 months after the movie concluded filming. The Kids Are Alright became an epitaph for one of the greatest rock drummers in one of the greatest rock bands of all time.

brought to you by noding your homework.

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