"Yesterday": Annoy the Critics. See It.
When I was on Tony Macrini’s morning radio show a few weeks ago our talk turned to The Beatles.
You know, the greatest band that ever lived. Don’t argue with me.
The former deejay had asked his listeners to name their favorite Beatles’ tune and they overwhelmingly picked “In My Life.” Couldn’t argue with that. Then again, John, Paul, George and Ringo recorded 305 songs - 236 were originals - and it’s impossible to pick just one single as their best.
One day it would be “Something.” The next it would be “Eleanor Rigby.” And for the open borders crowd, “Imagine.”
During an all-over-the-place chat that morning Macrini and I talked about how much we’d loved The Beatles as teenagers. And still do. Our parents predicted they wouldn’t last. Our parents were wrong.
“The Beatles were the soundtrack of our youth,” Macrini sighed at one point.
Oh, they were.
Maybe that’s why I enjoyed “Yesterday” so much, the new film from Richard Curtis, the screenwriter of “Love Actually” and Danny Boyle, who directed “Slumdog Millionaire.”
According to Rotten Tomatoes, audiences seem smitten, giving the movie a rating of 90 percent. The critics? Not so much. They come in at 61.
You probably know the plot and I’m not giving anything away by recapping: A young, unsuccessful singer/songwriter in England has an accident, wakes up in the hospital and finds that he's the only person - in the world, it seems - who remembers the Beatles.
Next thing you know he’s a rockstar, churning out Beatles’ hit after Beatles’ hit and feeling like a fraud. There’s a love story, of course, and the lingering question: What would the world be like without The Beatles? Oh, and there is a LOT of music. I believe there are about 18 songs in the movie from “Back in the USSR” to “I Saw Her Standing There.”
Himesh Patel is terrific as the singer. Close your eyes and at times he really does sound like Paul McCartney.
Reviews are mixed. While it finished third at the box office over the weekend, behind “Spiderman” and “Toy Story 4,“ some critics are griping that it’s unbelievable (I guess “Spiderman” isn't) and not edgy enough (I suppose “Toy Story 4” is full of profound social commentary).
A reviewer for The Atlantic called Yesterday “forgettable.” A critic in New York magazine said it was “clunky.” And The New Yorker sniffed that, “Yesterday is ultimately a romantic comedy, but a conceptually complex one, built on a peculiarly reactionary framework of private life and a culturally conservative pop classicism.”
Whatever that means.
Look, who are you going to believe, them or me?
Go see it. It’s summertime and this is a quirky romcom/science fiction film. The plot is fun. The script is amusing. The performances are excellent. And the music? Hey, it’s The Beatles.
They were the inspiration for almost everything on that long and winding road to today’s music.