(Originally Posted 7/29/11)
Hello and welcome to another thrilling edition of Kristen D. Eats The World. I just want to let you all know:
I. FUCKING. HATE. THIS. MOVIE.
I know what you must be thinking: “But Kristen, you’re a chick who loves the Beatles AND romance! How can you not love this movie?!”
I’ll tell you how, because it fucking sucks.
Sigh. This is going to be a LONG review, so strap in.
When I first heard about this I was excited. A crazy love story set in the 60’s/70’s with The Beatles’ music serving as a musical backdrop. What isn’t there to love about that concept? Oh boy, was I ever mislead. There was a “love” story and Beatles “music” alright, but it wasn’t what I was expecting. This review is going to be more ranting then anything else, so I’m going to go ahead and get the good aspects of it out of the way before delving into the garbage.
The visuals are ABSOLUTELY STUNNING. I will come right out and admit that. Whoever worked on the effects is extremely talented and I hope they have found more high paying work in the field. Martin Luther McCoy, T. V. Carpio and Timothy T. Mitchum have great voices, with Mitchum being borderline AMAZING for such a young man. And that is pretty much where the good times stop. I guess we should get into the “story”.
Jude (Jim Sturgess) is a young shipyard worker living in Liverpool. He joins the Merchant Navy and bails once he gets to America to search for the father he never knew, leaving behind his (I assume) long time girlfriend Molly. Lucy (Evan Rachel Wood) is a suburban teen, sad over the fact that her boyfriend, Daniel, is about to be shipped off to Vietnam. They share one last night together at the school dance/prom and Daniel leaves. Jude finds his father working as a janitor at Princeton and they reconnect, with his father giving him a place to sleep for the time being.
While having a smoke, Jude saves Max (Joe Anderson) from getting his head caved in after he and his friends purposely break a window playing golf on a nearby roof. Daniel’s mother receives news that he has been killed in action, and Lucy is devastated. Max is her brother and he brings Jude along for Thanksgiving. Lucy and Jude hit it off and Max announces to their family that he is dropping out of college. He and Jude move to the Village in New York City, shacking up with aspiring singer Sadie (Dana Fuchs) and her lead guitarist and soon to be lover JoJo (Martin Luther McCoy). About here is where my problems with the movie begin.
This was the first movie role that Fuchs and McCoy had, as they are musicians. McCoy did a really good acting job and he was great singing wise. Fuchs also did pretty well acting all things considered. My problem with her is as a singer. She’s fucking terrible. Maybe it was just the stuff she was given to sing, maybe it was whatever was done to her voice in the editing room. I have no fucking clue. I just know that she’s awful here. There is a scene where she and McCoy’s character’s are fighting with each other via singing, trying to show one another up. McCoy COMPLETELY blows her out of the water, it isn’t even a contest.
Lucy decides to visit Max and Jude in NYC before she goes away to college. She comes with bad news though, as she has a letter for Max stating that he has been drafted. He burns the letter vowing not to go, but JoJo warns him that the Government will get him no matter what he does and he’s better off just going on his own. This is a really good scene, it shows that the cast enjoyed filming the movie and showcases Anderson’s skill as an actor. He’s one of if not the best actor in the movie. Later on a girl named Prudence (T.V. Carpio) climbs into the living room window (remember that) of the apartment, explaining that she escaped from an abusive boyfriend across the street and the crew let her stay there. Another problem here: the dialog. Sadie walks into the room and this is what happens:
Sadie (looking toward Prudence): Where did she come from?
Jude: She came…through the bathroom window.
Gag me with a spoon. I swear, by the way Sturgess delivers the line, I thought he was going to look at the camera and wink. It was pretty painful. As bad as that is, Rachael Wood is even worse a bit later in the film. After Sadie is talked up by a record executive and goes to a party with the crew hosted by Dr. Robert (Bono), the crew is stranded by him in the middle of nowhere and are freaking out. Rachael Wood blurts out “I am he, as you are he, as you are me and we are all together!”. One, that doesn’t work as a piece of dialog, two it doesn’t help that her delivery was atrocious.
They meet Mr. Kite, played by the always wonderful Eddie Izzard. This is by far for me the best use of special effects. It’s his cover of Being For The Benefit of Mr. Kite. I recommend everyone just check out that scene if nothing else. They make it back to NYC and Sadie gives in to her manager and drops her backing band, including JoJo. With Max in ‘nam, Lucy becomes heavily involved in politics while Jude remains neutral but isn’t happy about all the time she is spending with the radical group. He thinks the group’s leader is trying to put the moves on her and heads to their headquarters, proceeding to lose his shit while “singing” Revolution. Lucy has enough of his jealously and breaks up with him.
Honestly, I don’t feel bad for Jude at all. He isn’t really a likeable character. He left his mother alone and completely abandoned his girlfriend. Whilst in the car heading to NYC with Max earlier, Max points out that Lucy has a boyfriend (Daniel hadn’t been killed yet). Jude responds with “It’s ok, I have a girlfriend” with a smile on his face. What a douchenozzle. Lucy finds that the radical group is making bombs and she leaves. Jude sees Lucy in the middle of a riot and tries to get to her but is arrested. His father bails him out and tries to help him stay in America but Jude entered illegally and is deported. One of the bombs goes off and kills the radical group. Jude gets wind of this and thinks Lucy is dead. Max, having returned from the war mentally fucked up, tells him that she is in fact alive and Jude goes back to America legally.
JoJo and Sadie get back together and decide to put on a rooftop concert (facepalm) with Prudence now in the band. Max picks up Jude and drives him there. Lucy tries to get in but the police won’t let her. She goes to a building across the street to get a look. Jude stays on the roof as the fuzz try to break up the show and starts “singing” All You Need Is Love to Lucy as she watches on. The cops have a change of heart and allow the rest of the band to join in. And the film ends on Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds.
Gah, I don’t even know where to start with this. Except for a few performances, the singing is bad to god awful. The Let It Be cover by Mitchum is just brilliant and it pisses me off that they could have THIS in the film and fail so miserably the rest of the way. Rachael Wood comes off wooden in almost every scene she’s in. Especially if she tries to show anger. I don’t buy the “love” story at all. The dialog is contrived, with shit like “When I’m SIXTY FOUR I’ll be long away from this place!” thrown at us constantly like it’s supposed to be clever. It isn’t. I’m not saying the original Beatles films are cinematic gold, hell Magical Mystery Tour is a mess. But it was FUN and the performances were damn good. I ONLY recommend seeing this movie for the few performance that I pointed out or watching it with the sound off while on some kind of psychedelic, if that’s what you’re into. Otherwise it’s entirely forgettable and a shame at that.