The storyline imposed on the original musical’s book has large expository gaps. These are accentuated by director Milos Forman’s determination to have free-form musical numbers evolve out of the tale of a draftee adopted by a bunch of New York hippies, who tune him into their uninhibited lifestyles.
John Savage plays the inductee, fascinated by the group he stumbles upon at a Central Park be-in, composed of Treat Williams, Annie Golden, Dorsey Wright and Don Dacus. They get him stoned, urge him on in his quest for debutante Beverly D’Angelo, and pursue him to his basic training camp in Nevada and a bittersweet finale.
The spirit and elan that captivated the Vietnam protest era are long gone, and what Forman tries to make up with splash and verve fails to evoke potent nostalgia.