A mess when it was first shown on British television in 1967 and a mess today. In a recording studio, The Beatles, like some of their contemporaries such as Bob Dylan and the Beach Boys, could often get away with self-indulgence because of the corresponding musical genius that went along with it. But making a television film on their own showed that self-indulgence can only go so far. As a pop band, they had no rivals. As movie directors, they were barely better than your average five year old with a Super 8 camera. MAGICAL MYSTERY TOUR is neither magical nor mysterious, and the places it tours are quite dull and lifeless. There is something seriously wrong with a Beatles film when my favorite scene features a song by another band entirely ("Death Cab for Cutie" by the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band). Granted, this film does contain Paul's simple but beautiful ballad "The Fool on the Hill" and John's classic bit of paranoid two-note gobbledy-gook "I Am the Walrus" but, as we chronicle in our Beatles album section, these are just about the only two songs worth mentioning from the project. To appropriate the words of George in A HARD DAY'S NIGHT - MAGICAL MYSTERY TOUR is a drag. A well know drag. Turn the sound down on it and say rude things. - JB
P.S. On the other hand, it's probably better not to take this film too seriously, so add another star if you just love anything having to do with the Beatles. Like, if you own, and still listen to, the Ringo Starr album Bad Boy, for instance. Or the Lennon-Ono Wedding Album. Or George's Electronic Music. Or you walk around all day humming "Bip Bop".