Celebrating the anniversary of 1977’s punk explosion and Sex Pistols manager Malcolm McLaren’s kiss-off to the music industry’s obsession with the bottom line, The Great Rock N’ Roll Swindle is 104 minutes of sprawling chaos. As unencumbered by plot line as the Clash’s Rude Boy is, this annoying docu-fantasy is built on surreal non sequiturs — McLaren and his dwarf companion, Helen, coexist uneasily with snippets of soft porn, cartoon animation of the band, quasi music videos, and a pointless chase scene on a beach in Brazil. It might be charitable to call this a fiasco.
Even the music can’t save the film. It’s full of indulgences like a disco medley of ”Anarchy in the U.K.,” an unkempt Sid Vicious singing Eddie Cochran’s ”Somethin’ Else” while scratching the crotch of his undies, and the genre-defying scene of two prim women playing music from the Never Mind the Bollocks score book at a piano. Swindle’s soundtrack is at best a contrivance. D+