PARLIAMENT FUNKADELIC: ONE NATION UNDER A GROOVE (Yvonne Smith) Rating: NNNN Rating: NNNNN
To some, the words "Parliament Funkadelic" bring a whole host of very bad things to mind: porno wah guitar, cheesy synths, corny Roger Troutman vocoders, the George Clinton of the last decade, Bootsy Collins circa Deee-lite, beats with heavy panting over them and that not-even-retro-cool-any-more 70s funk lexicon.
But on closer examination, Clinton's 30-plus-member multiple-band-birthing group is a layer cake of entertainment genius whose musical history is crazy enough to rival the band's own extraterrestrial mythology.
In Parliament Funkadelic: One Nation Under A Groove, documentarian Yvonne Smith explores the progenitors of the Dr. Dre-inspiring P-Funk, both onstage and off, creating a study that's stimulating, informative and accessibly funny.
There are freaky interviews with collective members and related personalities, archival footage, tripped-out 2-D and computer-generated animation in the Parliament aesthetic and smoove narration courtesy of the Afronaut, a cartoon character created by Smith and voiced by Undercover Brother star Eddie Griffin (way less annoying than expected).
By these means, One Nation shines a light on Parliament Funkadelic's humble doo-wop origins, their fabulously lewd, lavish, outer-space psych-funk operas and ferocious spirit of musical and visual imagination that empowered and inspired African-American youths.
Screens Saturday (July 8), 4:30 pm, and Sunday (July 9), 2 pm, as part of Beats, Breaks & Culture at Harbourfront Centre. You'll likely have loads of questions for the flick's funky-minded director, and luckily Smith will attend both days for post-screening Q&As hosted by NOW's Cameron Bailey.