What if you realised you ‘were the only one in the world who remembers The Beatles after having been flattened by a bus during a ‘magical event’? And because you’re one of the thousands of ‘I will never ever play to more than 20 people’ acoustic acts, you can turn this to your advantage/profit. But, will ripping off the most influential band ever come with a moral conundrum? It’s a Danny Boyle film, of course it fucking will.
I’m going to struggle here because A) I watched this so I could hammer it in this very column because 2) I hate the fucking Beatles. And this being written by Richard Curtis, it’s not just falling into the realm of fantasy by it’s very premise, it’s falling into that because the characters portrayed within are unrelatable comfortably well off caricatures.
I am going to give Himesh Patel as Jack his props though, he sells what he’s doing here well enough, in that I can believe he’s an actual person and not a sitcom trope made flesh. He reminds a fuck of a lot of Russell Brand though.
Ah the meat and taties. There’s a lot to unpack here. I’m absolutely fine with the concept of road accident drops you into another dimension where things didn’t align for The Beatles to become what they did, that’s cool. But where do you start that the music of today would be ‘same as our 2018 but no Beatles (or Oasis, which I did laugh at)? The sheer scope of influence across genres and generations is fucking insane whether I like them or not. I wouldn’t expect the film to delve into this being a RomCom aimed squarely at my Mum but hey, nature abhors a vacuum. Would The Stones be even more influential? Their Satanic Majesties wouldn’t be getting made as it was a response to Sgt Peppers. Who goes massive – The Kinks? Dave Clark 5? Would The Monkees exist? Any number of massively influential in their own right artists (say like Kurt Cobain), do they pick up guitars without them? Does a genre like Electronic Music (the Kraftwerk variety) step in that void and music in general is completely alien to Jack after the bike accident? So many questions. I’m sure they were the first band to use 24 track recording too but they didn’t invent that. Correct me if I’m wrong.
Also baffling; no Coca Cola as a brand? Fine. Cigs are non-existent but drugs are? Get to fuck with that.
Second conundrum: You’re bashing out Beatles tracks for a 2018 audience. Back in the USSR? Lovely Rita Meter Maid? The baby shit off Dr Peppers with all the quirky bollock lyrics? That is not going to fly in the modern world, They’re not Ghostface Killah bars, throw in some substitutions here and there so ‘the kids’ don’t have to google your archaic terms.
And as for propelling this guy into sell out stadium tours within 6 months, would these songs touch people in the way they did back in the 60s? I can’t shake the feeling even if he stuck to the classic shit like Blackbird/Yesterday etc, you’re only going to get into mid-tier territory, although I can’t think of anyone current that fits that bill. Why the hell he doesn’t set up as a music factory and just supply the tunes to acts like Sheeran/Adele/Bieber, then sit back in anonymity on a giant pile of money confuses me.
And fuck whoever came up with that Hey Dude swap in (probably Ed ‘acoustic Kappa demon’ Sheeran himself) – lame as fuck. Speaking of which…
Christ if endlessly hearing the ‘child on a xylophone 3 bar nonsense’ of Shape of You blaring from every shithouse radio station & advert for the last 18 months solid wasn’t enough, ‘coelacanth-wearing-fake-spectacles’ looking motherfucker Ed Sheeran is here! In a way bigger part than he has any right to, even if he’s playing himself. The absolute gall of this clown to refer to himself like he’s the number one songwriter in the world today too. It’s not even done ironically, he’s essentially trying to assert dominance over Jack in front of his backstage sycophant squad. Bitch please, I’ve spent the last 15+ years either playing with or watching all you F-tier acoustic opener guys. Some are good, some are middling, most are downright boring. The point being there is absolutely nothing, zero, shit fuck all in your songwriting that sets you apart from any of them. You’re the jammy fucker that found the monkeys paw, don’t act like you’re king shit of musical legend, you’re like a sorceror set up a featureless golem to imbue with all the dark power of the Necronomicon but done fucked up at the last minute and used a book of horrifically embarrassing lyrics he wrote in 6th form instead. Couldn’t even tell you which is the more evil, fucker should be on trial at The Hague for that Galway Girl song.
Anyway, I digress. The real reason he’s here is to save money on recreating a Wembley show in CGI. Why bother when you can promise him a part and just shoot what footage they need to get at the end of his sold out show? You’re arsehole enough to pay £80+ for some gloit with a weeny guitar at Wembley 3 nights in a row, you’re certainly not going to begrudge some other arsehole farting out Beatles covers as a hidden extra.
This film is even cheaping out on the magic event at the start too, which consists of turning some lights off. Yeah.
Know what else doesn’t exist in this timeline? Security. I’ve never been to Wembley stadium but it’s apparently both a piece of piss to turn up, walk through the crowd to the front and just go backstage unchallenged, where some unqualified clown sidekick can broadcast your face without permission to not only the 90,000 numbwits who turned up, but however many folk are streaming it too. Why is ‘comedy’ sidekick the only person backstage running what I assume to be a bespoke light & sound system at goddamn Wembley?
Same deal with Raquel off Coronation St / unnamed Russian fella. Jack’s on a Sheeran level of famous at this point. They merely wait for an hour after his gig to see him and gain entrance to his dressing room. Not even one hired security goon present. This is the equivalent of me hanging about outside an Adele gig with a paving stone because ‘she’ll know what I mean’ and being ushered in. It’s fucking suicide by fan in this dimension, what’s so different there?
Speaking of the only other two who remember as Jack does, I get the impression a whole load of their backstory was chopped out in favour of Jack procrastinating over his lovelife/impostery. They’re the most interesting bit of the whole film, sloppily built as some kind of threat then handwaved away as they simply congratulate him for dumping his pubrock covers across the world. How did they meet? Actually disregard that, I guarantee there’s some heavily populated forum on Reddit for people who remember shit that never existed. How is Raquel stalking Jack across Liverpool when he goes there spontaneously?
I’m not exactly screaming for a 3hr Directors Cut but it renders all this meaningless except pausing the main plot to suck the Beatles collective dick.
Halfway through, my girlfriend asked me how I thought this would end. Everything I said turned out to be exactly how it choked itself out. If you like safe and predictable, this is the film for you. Mum.
Other quick points:
- I was absolutely convinced either McCartney or Ringo were going to pop up and mug their way through cameos. I think what you do get is possibly worse but I’ll let you decide.
- Having a recording studio on a train station platform is a surefire way to immediate bankruptcy. Are you fucking stupid Gavin?
- If I could put a succinct point on why I dislike The Beatles music so much, it would probably be the approx. 36,000 times I had to listen to my brother and his tugboat friend bludgeon their way through “Hey Bulldog” all summer long about 25 years ago. The only other tune they knew was “Rock’n’Roll Star” by Oasis and fuck that song too.
- It doesn’t help Paul McCartney has musics most punchable head either.
- A designer I vaguely worked with grew up with Sheeran, and last year he took him on tour for a full year all expenses paid. I have other 1st hand accounts on how stand up of a guy he is too. That’s nice, stay out of films.
Should I watch this?
I felt physically sick after it wrapped up all nice like some fairy tale for people where Brexit isn’t going to affect them in the slightest. I’d avoid it like the plague, but I suppose you’ll find merit in it if you’re right into Beatles covers sung flat as a pancake. There’s an amazing film you could make with the same premise/different missing cultural element if you delved a bit deeper, but this is just a frame here for a bogstandard romance film you’ve seen before, like when the BBC made it in the 90s and it was called Goodnight Sweetheart. This is Hell timeline you softlad, if you’re lucky enough to drop into an alternate dimension at the expense of your front gnashers, fill your boots. I’d be straight throwing them morals in the sea and profiting. Or would be, if I could actually play any Beatles songs – I’m sure we can work it out though. Thank you, I’ll be here all summer, try the veal etc etc.