George Sidney's adaptation of the satiric Broadway musical smash by Michael Stewart, Charles Strouse, and Lee Adams -- about an Elvis Presley-inspired rock star, who is drafted into the army and who creates a near-riot in a small Midwestern town when he stops there for one last publicity junket -- takes good-natured swipes at popular culture, rock n' roll, and American family life. Dick van Dyke re-creates his Broadway role of Albert Peterson, a down-on-his-luck songwriter for the rock-n'-roll idol Conrad Birdie (Jesse Pearson). When Birdie is drafted into the army, Peterson is worried about his future as a songwriter. His secretary, Rosie (Janet Leigh in a brunette wig), with whom Albert has long been romantically attached, convinces Albert to write a farewell song for Birdie that he will sing on The Ed Sullivan Show to a specially selected fan. The lucky fan turns out to be Kim McAfee (Ann-Margaret) of Sweet Apple, Ohio. When Birdie arrives in this hick town, the population goes crazy and in the ensuing madness, Albert must deal with the celebrity-fawning population, Kim's manic father (Paul Lynde, also re-creating his Broadway role), and his own domineering mother (Maureen Stapleton), while he loses Rosie to the Shriners.
Paul Brenner, All Movie Guide