I saw Alice’s Restaurant (the movie) last night. I’ve always loved the original 18-minute Arlo Guthrie song. It’s practically a family tradition to find some radio station that plays it on the drive to Thanksgiving.
On the plus side: Arlo plays himself, as does Officer Obie and the blind judge. The real Alice is an extra in a few scenes. The movie was filmed in the actual church, which is now owned by Arlo as the Guthrie Center. Director Arthur Penn was nominated for an Oscar (though I don’t really see why).
On the minus side: Considering the movie is an attempt to stretch the song into a full-length movie, it does a bad job making full use of the song itself. It rushes through the re-enactment of the lyrics, poorly timing the gags it contains. Also, there are a number of oddly melodramatic sub-plots.
Overall, it was about what I expected: disjoint, confusing, idealistic, goofy, earnest. In other words, it nicely captured the mood in 1969.