Review: 'Magic Music Movie' sings a happy tune

Documentary tells story of why 1970s folk rock outfit never hit it big

Adam Graham
Detroit News Film Critic
The members of Magic Music in "40 Years in the Making: The Magic Music Movie."

You've probably never heard of Magic Music. There's a reason for that, and that story is at the heart of "40 Years in the Making: The Magic Music Movie," a heartfelt documentary about a band that never made it big, or made it at all. 

Magic Music was a 1970s folk rock outfit that was a favorite on the campus of Colorado University at Boulder. The members had names like "Flatbush," "Poonah" and "Spoons," and they resided in school buses in the community around Boulder. They lived the full-blown hippie lifestyle, and they thought they had the key to the universe. 

Except the band never recorded a lick of music, and every time they were on the verge of some sort of success, they mucked it up in fantastic fashion. One time they blew a record deal because one of the members refused to wear shoes when meeting with record execs; a gig opening on tour for Cat Stevens fell apart when the group did three encores on opening night; and another record deal fell apart because one of the members didn't like a record exec's shoes. (Shoes and footwear were a recurring problem for the band.) 

Writer-director Lee Aronsohn, a veteran sitcom writer for shows like "Two and a Half Men" and "The Big Bang Theory," was a student in Boulder in the '70s and was a fan and believer in Magic Music. So he set out to find the band members today and capture their story, and attempts to reunite them for a one-night-only gig in their hometown. 

"40 Years in the Making" is at times like a comically inept parody of "Behind the Music." But underneath the music biz follies is a tale of friendship, the power of music, the death of the hippie dream and the weight of years we all carry with us. And yes, there's a little bit of magic in there, too.


'40 Years in the Making: The Magic Music Movie'


Not rated: Adult situations 

Running time: 97 minutes