Ken Shapiro’s “The Groove Tube” is a raggedy collection of skits satirizing television ads and programs, a not especially challenging target that is met with a lack of conceptual focus and a wildly variant acuity of wit. In fact, the film is a bit of a mess. not only technically- it’s rather shabby looking visually and the production values reek of serious budgetary limits -but in the scattershot content which often does not seem to gel with the film’s chosen subject. If one intends to poke fun at television, there are an endless number of targets richly deserving of ridicule, so to include material that seems to have no relationship to the medium is not only puzzling but annoying, as surely with the brevity of the film’s running time- a mere 75 minutes -one cannot possibly exhaust the material straining to be satirized by even the most sophomoric vein of humor.
The film opens with a mock- but impressively rendered -imitation of Kubrick’s “Dawn of Man” sequence from “2001”, though if memory serves correctly, the apemen from the original weren’t seen playing solitaire. The payoff of the segment is the basis for the rest of the film to come, a somewhat obvious punchline, though still a rather witty visual encapsulation of Marshall McLuhan’s most famous quote about television. The digressions, however, begin immediately with a pointless episode of hitchhiking and playful striptease which seems to exist solely for the prospect to seem provocative for its display of full frontal nudity of both genders, but without any relevant purpose. If the intention is to seem hip and daring, the sequence results only in confusion, and instead of resembling material from broadcast television it instead resembles outtakes from a good-natured version of Wes Craven’s “Last House on the Left”.
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