Director Robert Altman confounded MGM by following his antiwar hit MASH with this oddball story, in which he mocked Hollywood with nods to The Wizard of Oz and a parody of Steve McQueen's Bullitt, while breaking up the narrative with "interpretive" interjections from an avian lecturer (René Auberjonois), who exhorts the audience at the beginning to draw no conclusions. Altman presents Brewster's wish to fly away from it all as irresistible, yet doomed by late '60s-early '70s cultural confinements; there are too many clowns, young and old, who can ground the idealistic urge to escape. Too inscrutably weird for its own financial good, Brewster McCloud was not well-received by either critics or audiences. Even so, it remains an intriguing barometer of the Nixon-era struggle between repression and freedom, skewed through Altman's penchant for wrapping a sharp message in layers of goofy, ironic absurdities.
by Lucia Bozzola review