First of all, how do I review the DVD without giving away the "first-time viewing experience"? Hmm, here goes. It's good, a great job capturing the spirit of the week-long event. For those of you who attended it will serve as a walk down memory lane, filled with special moments that will produce laughter and tears of joy. For those that were unable to attend, the movie will make you feel as if you had. The movie is more about what the fans experienced, while Todd is certainly a central figure throughout. Go out and buy it when it becomes available; it will be certainly a unique addition to your Todd video collection. The End.
Well, that was rather short. And perhaps it's just enough to convince those of you on the fence to make that purchase. But in case you're not convinced, or perhaps you're a sucker for spoilers, then read on.
The movie opens with a montage of personal photos provided by Todd and Michele, showing the construction of their new home. The blessing of which is one of the three primary reasons for having this event, the other two being Todd's 60th birthday and the release of "Arena". All will be delighted with this glimpse of the process it took to bring Todd's dream home to light: the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
One thread throughout the movie is a conversation that Todd and Michele had about the week, allowing the viewer to hear their personal thoughts about the event, before, during and after. In the first of these segments they discuss how the idea for "Toddstock" emerged, how it may come together and why Todd decided to include fans to participate; "They will make the event". Juxtaposed and in a split screen format, utilized through out the movie, we see scenes of the construction of "Rundgren Village" and the general "Toddstock" site. Much of the work being done by the fans, the physical and spiritual "Utopian Community" begins to emerge. Todd and Michele's commentary gives way to short blurbs from the early arrivals that play out over a "karaoke" version of "Never Never Land" from "With a Twist".
The peacefulness and serenity of those early days gives way to the hectic activity-filled days that followed, featuring kayaking, tubing, helicopter rides, kite-flying, surfing and a Todd-led hike up the Na Pali Coast; all cut to a selected soundtrack that is right on. The segment featuring food prep, the dueling bars and nightly merriment brought back lots of memories and also offered more opportunities to spot friends in the many cameos offered. An extended selection from Kenny Emerson singing Bo Diddley's "Mona" spotlighted the first of the "evening" activities, which gives way to humorous depiction of the nightly experience and "soundtrack" of living in "Tent City".
Interspersed among the scenes are clips from the rehearsal sessions for "Arena." They feature selections from "Afraid," "Panic," "Strike," "Gun" and "Today." They provide a rarely seen glimpse into Todd's process of teaching the band his new material and how much work goes in to preparing for a tour. As for the much anticipated week-ending event, the debut and dress rehearsal of "Arena": I am still waiting to see it, as there was merely a place holder in lieu of any concert footage. When Ed sent me the DVD, I was informed that this portion of the movie is still being edited but that clips from the performance will be included in the final movie.
Perhaps one of the highlights of the week's events was the blessing of the house, as Todd explains in the movie, an important and integral ritual in the Hawaiian culture. As Michele discusses, participating in this special moment with the Rundgren family was a highlight for many of the fans. An important aspect of the ceremony for those who were in attendance was to offer a personal blessing for the family. Being the large number of people, each was asked to provide one word of blessing. Todd then invited everyone to tour the house for themselves. After everyone had an opportunity to tour the house and take pictures with Todd in his kitchen, the fans performed a Hula in Todd's honor, the rehearsal for which is also seen.
The daylong preparation of the pig for the Luau is compressed into just a few minutes, (warning: the vegetarians among us may want to divert their eyes for this brief moment), and the celebration of the Luau is captured with all the excitement it entailed. This led into another of the evening activities, the Rundgren Radio interview, a unique opportunity that illustrated the ease of interaction and camaraderie that developed over the course of the week between Todd and the fans.
As it actually took place on June 22, at the conclusion of the dress rehearsal, there was an impromptu fan inspired birthday celebration. During it, Todd and Michele thanked all those who made so many sacrifices, traveled so far, made Utopia a reality and shared a sake toast. After some drunken fun the movie's conclusion begins with a newly recorded Hawaiian version of a Utopia song, done specifically for the movie. During this segment the fans are once again front and center, sharing, in short sound bites, their experience of the week while a photo montage shows the numerous newly formed friendships that were forged. In conclusion Todd thanked everyone for "Living up to my highest expectations" as well as Michele asking, "What are we going to do for your 70th?".
Viewing this work in progress made me want to experience Toddstock all over again and this movie provides that opportunity and more. And just as the original "Woodstock" movie had people who did not attend that event feel as if they actually were there, "Toddstock" will do the same. Before it is released, a unique opportunity to see the movie on a big screen will be at the "World Premiere" on September 7th in Michigan, the day before one of the "Healing/Todd" performances. Todd will be in attendance. Plans are in the works to make this premier a unique event as Ed and Bill Chapman continue the work to finish the movie.
Roger, AKA Lokelo