Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Inside the Osmonds (2001)

Directed by Neill Fearnley. The most important thing I learned from "Inside the Osmonds" is that there is at least one kick-ass Osmonds song. It's called "Hold Her Tight" and if you're a fan of '70s cock rock of the cowbell and horn section variety, you need to seek it out.

"Inside the Osmonds" is a very standard TV movie that tells the story of the world famous showbiz Mormon family. One of the things that makes it interesting is that, while VH1 perfected the "rags to riches to rags to redemption" boiler plate for these sorts of things, the savvy producers behind this funfest knew enough to skip the first chapter and just get to the downfall.

The film opens with the Osmond brothers already at the top of the pops and bitching about being teeny-boppers, about little brother Donny getting all the attention, and not being able to make rock and roll. And to make the point, they roll out "Hold Her Tight," which rips off Zeppelin's "Immigrant Song" riff but like all excusable rip offs, does enough with it to create its own identity. The 1972 single peaked at #14, the year the Crazy Horses LP made their statement as rock and roll musicians. Keep in mind that that the Osmonds weren't textbook bubblegum personalities in that they played their own instruments and wrote at least some of their own songs.

So the label lets the band diversify with the rock as long as they also throw tons of Donny into the mix, that runs its course and Donny and Marie become TV stars. The Hollywood-weary Mormons spend more than $40 million to build a state of the art production studio/theater back home in Utah. When the show is cancelled they've lost everything. They make it back gradually over the next several years on the road by sticking together as a family, if you don't count all the divorces.

There are two important takeaways here. The first is that even in a dramatization, that little Jimmy Osmond seemed like an obnoxious little shit. The second is you need to hear this "Hold Me Tight."

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