Christ, it’s hot. I know there are countries out there who consistently have much hotter weather than this but this is the UK. We’re not built for heat. Especially as my office has no air-con and we’ve been told we’re not allowed fans. It’s been so gross. To put it bluntly, I’m sticky. So, I need to get this sorted quickly and go for an icy shower. I’m a bookish person. We aren’t built for Summer. And I promise you, I hadn’t intended to start this post by talking about how sweaty I am. I had something planned and everything. But the heat has melted my brain. So, here we are. At least I can clarify something today. I don’t hate The Beatles. No matter what I may have suggested in my review of Yesterday, I actually enjoy listening to them every now and then. I just think we need to change the narrative that they’re the “greatest band of all time”. Maybe they’re the most popular band of all time but the greatest is a different story. Yesterday wasn’t a film. It was Richard Curtis trying to get Paul McCartney to notice him. It was weird and kind of sad. So, I thought it was time to review a film that actually does a decent job of using The Beatles as a basis for a film.
If you were to ask me which version of the song Come Together is my favourite then I’d have to say the Joe Cocker version from this film. It’s perfect. His gravelly voice is fantastic and the arrangement is wonderful. I love it. In fact, I love most of this album more than the original recordings. Listening to Jim Sturgess sing Something is a beautiful thing and makes The Beatles’ version seem much less emotive. And there’s a reason that this cover of With A Little Help From My Friends was chosen for that sequence in the Gilmore Girls comeback. It’s amazing.
I’m not sure exactly when I first saw this film but I do remember why. It was because of Eddie Izzard. I am a little bit obsessed with him and there was a period when I tracked down everything he had ever appeared in. Even that god awful cross-dressing film he made with Matt LeBlanc. It was a tough time. But this film surprised me. Back then, I was even less of a fan of The Beatles if you can imagine such a thing. I probably thought I was being cool. I wasn’t cool. So, I bought this thinking I’d hate it and forget it. I didn’t. I loved it. It was weird, beautiful, and just cheesy enough. Do I think it went a bit too far to shoehorn in certain songs? Yes, but what jukebox musical doesn’t do that. I mean it’s a bit desperate at times but it’s not Mama Mia or We Will Rock You.
The story follows a group of people living in the 60s. Jude (see what I mean) is a dockworker in Liverpool who travels to America to meet his absent father. When he finds out his father is as much of a waster as he is Jude teams up with Ivy League drop-out Max. The pair move to New York and live in a dingy flat with loads of colourful bohemian characters. There’s Sadie, the aspiring singer; Jo-Jo, a guitarist whose brother died in the Detroit riot; and Prudence, a student who left school because of her feelings for a fellow cheerleader. Everything seems great until Max is called to enlist in the army and sent to Vietnam. This prompts his younger sister, Lucy, to start protesting against the war. All the why, she and Jude fall in love but will her political leanings cause trouble for the pair?
Okay, so when I say I love this film, I do have to admit that it’s not very good. The characters are thinly drawn and the story is so fucking cliched. It’s not very original and I kind of hate how obvious the constant references are. Did we need to see Saide and her band singing on a roof? Does every character need to be named after a Beatles’ song? No. But it doesn’t ruin things I guess. I also think there is a lot going on. Yes, it captures the spirit of the 60s but it’s messy. Everything is thrown into the story whether it necessary or not. It could have used a bit of an edit and some refining. However, the musical numbers are amazing. The choreography is great and there are some fantastically psychedelic sequences.
This is a flawed film, yes, but more importantly than that, it is a fun film. It’s weird, it’s crazy, and is pretty long considering. But it works. The songs are great, the performances are good, and the dance numbers are really original. I love it.