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Outer space and Motown

Published Friday, August 08, 2014 @ 4:12 AM EDT
Aug 08 2014

Guardians of the Galaxy is the first film I've seen twice in a theater since the 1991 release of James Cameron's Terminator 2.

Accompanying my son- who was seeing it for the first time- I wondered whether it would hold up on a second viewing. It did, and the extra details I missed the first time around actually made it more entertaining.

Combining the wow of Star Wars, the optimism of pre-Abrams Star Trek, and the absurdist humor and over-the-top action of The A-Team, what really struck me was how great the music was in this film.

Compiled by the hero's mom, "Awesome Mix Vol. 1" the ten tunes on the apparently indestructible cassette span a decade, from 1969 to 1979. There are eight especially memorable songs from 1970-1976, when I was 15 to 22 years old and, like most kids that age, acutely attuned to popular music.

Every song on the mix evokes a fond memory and a smile: graduating from high school; getting hired as a newspaper reporter; getting married; painting the first apartment; the 3,000 mile road trip in a non-air-conditioned Pinto; working for Allegheny County in a non-air-conditioned storefront office on Ross Street; my son Doug's birth in 1976, daughter Sara's in 1977, and moving to and buying our first house in 1978 and 1979.

Scenes featuring the songs end up with a personal- and emotional- overlay. Not quite enough get pulled out of the story, but enough to infuse an unexpected empathic connection with the characters on the screen.

I doubt in planning the movie the filmmakers asked themselves, "What can we add to really hook the 60-somethings?" If they did, thank you. If it's just serendipity (and a restrictive music licensing budget)- well, thank you, anyway.

It's not often you leave a sci-fi/fantasy epic with a smile and a spring in your step, playing air guitar to a James Jamerson/Funk Brothers bass line.

I wonder if my granddaughter would like to see it...

Categories: Guardians of the Galaxy, Movies


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