Wednesday, October 9, 2019

JOKER (2019)

Rated:  R

STARS: Joaquin Phoenix, Robert DeNiro, Brett Cullen, Zazie Beets
DIRECTOR: Todd Phillips
GENRE: Action/Adventure, Drama, Suspense  

When does black comedy cross the line into just nobody's-laughing-now dark and disturbing? That's what I asked myself as I watched Joker--purportedly showing how Batman's nemesis got that way--which has its moments, and lots of them, but in the end is too gratuitously violent for anyone but teenage gamers, serial killers, and mass shooters to embrace without reservation. It's as if director Todd Philips is playing a grisly game of one-upmanship with Quentin Tarantino.

That said, I don't know anyone who can play a deranged psychopath with the kind of panache that Joaquin Phoenix brings to the role. Prancing around in his bizarre clown make-up like a marionette boogieing to the Bee Gees. 

Phoenix is Arthur Fleck, an aspiring comedian who lives with his mother and does clown gigs at birthday parties for little kids. But he does stupid things like bringing a gun along with him, which slips out and clatters across the floor, prompting him to claim it was just a prop. Arthur--who wants to be called Joker--is a tragic figure who doesn't know whether to laugh or cry, but mostly he laughs--dementedly--at inappropriate times. People don't know how to take it, so they beat the shit out of him. One can only take so much of that, and Joker's breaking point comes when he guns down three tormentors on the subway. More carnage will follow as he sinks deeper into his psychosis and the film gets progressively nastier until you're asking yourself...what's the point of all this?

I had to think about what the intended message might be. Perhaps it's that we are one major crisis away from total chaos. (There's a garbage strike in the film's fictional setting of Gotham City, and folks are getting increasingly edgy.) Or that the vicious animal lurking inside us is always there just beneath the surface, ready to bare its fangs when the psychic  signal for batshit crazy mayhem flashes before our eyes.

Joker is purely a character study star vehicle for Joaquin Phoenix to strut his stuff brilliantly upon life's stage and become his signature performance. 

Robert DeNiro as a TV talk show host serves to remind us that the movie's plot dovetails with that of The King Of Comedy.  

The film has blockbuster written all over it, but I often have trouble with blockbusters because I find them to be too comic book slick for my tastes. We have gritty and grisly realism portrayed in unreal ways--as when Joker is running from the authorities and is smashed into by a car, flipping him onto the hood in a way that would either be curtains or a lengthy in-traction hospital stay for a regular person, but this wound-up cuckoo clock just shakes it off and keeps on running.

Joker, for those who can stomach it, presents a darkly disturbing view of a dystopian world that in many ways is already here.

Grade:  C+

Joker is without a doubt the most disturbing film I've seen since...I dunno. The Shining? Taxi? The Black Swan? Disturbing in a good way. (If there is such a thing!) It definitely makes you think. About mental illness, man's inhumanity to man, even our own breaking points. If you're longing to feel truly uncomfortable, Joker will do it for you.

I read online that Joaquin Phoenix shed 52 pounds before playing this part. Boy did he look emaciated. Which only added to his character's innate insanity. And watching his dance moves reminded me of Michael Jackson's Thriller. I'll bet a clown's outfit he studied those moves while preparing to play this part. So now, aside from Rene Zellweger's performance as Judy Garland, we have a second Oscar contender. Since he's already been nominated three times (The Master, Walk The Line and Gladiator), I'd say Joaquin Phoenix' chances of winning are spot on.

Not since John Williams' score for Jaws, have the suspenseful tones created by Icelandic composer Hildur Guðnadóttir made me squirm in my seat. And the unrelenting darkness Lawrence Sher's cinematography only added to my discomfort.

As I experienced this film, I wasn't quite sure when reality stopped and delusional thinking took over. And I believe I was meant to feel that way. After all, madness is never simple. The character's outbursts of laughter were particularly unsettling. Later I learned that there's a specific malady with those characteristics called psuedobulbar affect disorder (PAD). In my view, Phoenix should win a Special Oscar just for being able to laugh nonstop for as long as he did.

Up until the last twenty minutes, I was ready to give this tour de violence an A. But Joker suddenly took a wrong turn in my view--from being a character study to being a message movie. I won't go into too much detail as I wouldn't want to ruin the movie. Suffice it to say that it could have easily ended a lot earlier.

Grade  B 

Thursday, October 3, 2019

JUDY (2019)

Rated:  PG-13

STARS: Renee Zellweger, Darei Shaw, Finn Wittrock, Jessie Buckley, Rufus Sewell
DIRECTOR: Rupert Goold
GENRE: Biopic/Drama/Musical

I've always been fond of Renee. She won me over in Bridget Jones' Diary. In Jerry Maguire, she had me at hello. A high point was her 2004 Oscar win for Cold Mountain. Then she took a six year hiatus from the acting biz. Since returning, she did a couple more Bridget Jones flicks. I didn't see them. I thought it was a regression. She was really getting typecast. She needed a good meaty role that was worthy of her true acting chops. So finally we have Judy--based on the play End Of The Rainbow by Peter Quilter.

The film focuses on a drug addled Judy Garland in decline, trying to make a comeback with a sold out five week stint at The Talk of the Town in London in 1969. It was make or break time. She had to leave her young kids behind. All the more reason to keep hitting the booze and popping those pills. 

Judy flashes back and forth from that scenario to the teenage Judy Garland prepping for her role in The Wizard of Oz--manipulated and molested and put on a forced diet by studio head Louis B. Mayer. Initiated into the world of drug use at a tender age.

Renee Zellweger inhabits her character in a way that is downright scary. It is a bravura performance. On the other hand, there's a disconnect with the actress chosen to play the young Judy, newcomer (this is her second ever role) Darei Shaw. She doesn't look much like the young Judy Garland. She has the vulnerability of the young Judy, and maybe that's all director Rupert Goold was going for. But she lacks the fresh-faced girl next door quality that served the teenage Judy Garland so well in The Wizard of Oz.

There's a lot to like and appreciate about Judy. Zellweger does all of her own singing. It doesn't matter so much whether she sounds a lot like the real McCoy--what's impressive is that she's a pretty darn good singer in her own right. Add some flashy chorus girl production numbers and a captivating soundtrack from Gabriel Yared, and it had me grinning throughout. Yes, I smile, even when the story is sad. I'm smiling because of the brilliance of the artistry I'm witnessing.

Zellweger is almost assuredly a lock for an Oscar nomination for Best Actress. She's got my vote!



Darn, it's so much more fun to write our separate reviews when Tim and I disagree. 'Fraid not, this time. I knew I was in for a treat when the 11:30 am show was packed to the gills with Garland fans. I was lucky to get a seat!

So I guess the new trend for Oscar winners is to pick a part that brings back to life a tragically gifted singer who died too young. Rami Malek did it last year with Freddy Mercury. Renee Zellweger is doing it again this year with Judy Garland. Both actors literally became their legends. From looking like them, to imitating their exact movements on stage, both Malek and Zellweger were breathtakingly accurate. I predict that history will repeat itself at the 2020 Academy Awards show.

I read somewhere that the real Lorna Luft has opted not to see the movie of her mom. I don't blame her. It's painfully realistic. But unlike most films about addicted artists, Garland comes off loveable. In a desperately needy way. And the flashbacks make us even more sympathetic to her predestined drug use. Watching the evil way Louis B Mayer manipulates young Judy makes Harvey Weinstein's actions pale by comparison. (not really.)

If I had to criticize something about this movie (and I'm grasping at straws here), I might pare down some of the musical numbers. But that last one? Better bring a box of Kleenex!

Grade: A

Saturday, September 28, 2019


Rated:  PG

STARS: Maggie Smith, Hugh Bonneville, Michelle Dockery, Jim Carson, Laura Carmichael, Elizabeth McGovern
DIRECTOR: Michael Engler
GENRE" Comedy/Drama

I was never a fan of the PBS miniseries, Downton Abbey (in fact I'd never seen one episode), but all the gals in the theatre for the movie version obviously were, as they were tittering all the way through this two hour tour-de-farce. 

British humor is so...well...pretentious (as are most things British). It relies on a kind of haughtiness and condescending attitude when putting someone else down through the use of biting sarcasm. And here's a trivia question: What 2019 film plays out with nary a person of color anywhere to be found? Yes, it's Downton Abbey! Were it an American film set in modern times you'd never hear the end of it. But it's  somewhere in the early twentieth century as we revisit the aristocratic Crawley family and their teeming anthill staff preparing for a visit from the king and queen. This sets in motion much scrambling to get everything just right and show the royal couple the proper amount of...pretense (the British stock in trade). All the obsequious curtsying and butt kissing is humorous in an appalling sort of way (as it is in real life to this day).

The dowager countess (Maggie Smith) is at the heart of the action throughout, and she sets the proper tone of haughtiness for the rest of the cast of seemingly thousands. To delve further into the intricate plot would be beyond the scope of this review. Suffice it to say it's complicated, the characters are numerous and difficult to keep track of, and the film goes pretty well past its sell-by date. (Could have done with a lot less ballroom dancing.) 

But there's a grand scene of horses and pageantry that is truly impressive. In fact, it's a wonderfully poignant comedy-drama, with John Lunn's elegant and uplifting music score primarily responsible. I'm an old romantic from way back and I eat that stuff up! And the acting is first-rate. Splendid. Bully.Top-flight.  

Though I still think that British period pieces like Downton Abbey exist primarily for the purpose of keeping costume designers rolling in the chips.

Grade:  A


I am speechless. (And for a blabbermouth like me, that's pretty impressive.) Before I comment on Downtown Abbey, I want to share the process Tim and I go through on deciding which films to review. He has a wide range of rules about what'll he see and what he won't see. My no-nos are confined to sci-fi and animation. Still, that leaves us plenty of choices. As a diehard fan of the PBS series, I pestered, cajoled and begged Tim—against his will—to see this one. He agreed with one caveat: "I get to choose the next one!" I share this with you because, as I watched this hodgepodge of a movie, I kept muttering under my breath: "Tim's gonna kill me."

I'm convinced he liked Downton Abbey because he'd never seen the original. I'm equally convinced I hated it because I had. These wonderful characters were, for me, like family. I'd lived through many a crisis with them. And to see the cardboard cutouts they became on screen? What a disappointment! (Some of the actors weren't even in the TV series – which only added to my confusion.) It felt like the screenwriter had never even seen the series. (To my horror, the screenwriter Julian Fellows created the original!)

Maggie Smith delivered the best lines, of course. But there were so many plots and subplots that keeping track of them was as challenging as preparing beef Wellington for visiting royalty.

I suppose if one views Downton Abbey as a spoof about British snobbery, it might be enjoyable. And it spares no expense on being authentic to the period. But I loved those characters and the film version robbed them of their authenticity!

Grade: D -

Wednesday, September 18, 2019


Rated:  R

STARS: Ansel Elgort, Oakes Fegley, Nicole Kidman, Jeffrey Wright, Luke Wilson
DIRECTOR: John Crowley
GENRE: Drama

I was pretty stoked to see the film adaptation of Donna Tartt's Pulitzer Prize winning novel, The Goldfinch. I read the book--all 800 or so pages of it--and heartily concurred that it was deserving of every accolade it received. A literary masterpiece.

Bringing any novel to the screen is always a dicey proposition, and in this case director John Crowley (Brooklyn) and company certainly had their work cut out for them. The Goldfinch is about a young boy who loses his mother in a terrorist bombing. It's about his tenuous relationship with a young girl who has also suffered loss. It's about his relationship with his drug-addled Russian buddy, Boris. It's about his relationship with an avuncular furniture restorer and antique dealer who becomes his mentor. But primarily it's about his relationship with a fabled piece of art--the haunting image of a goldfinch tethered to a chain by the 17th century painter Carel Fabritius (which actually exists, though the story around it is fictionalized). It's a relationship that follows the classic rom-com formula of boy gets girl/boy loses girl/boy fights to get girl back. 

The scope of the novel goes far beyond the bare bones plot points I've provided. What makes it a classic is the fiery brilliance of Donna Tartt's prose, which unfortunately doesn't get translated to the silver screen--especially since she had no hand in the writing of the screenplay.

But I believe every film should stand as its own independent work of art, regardless of the source material. That's giving it a big break from the get-go. I'll just assume I haven't read the book. Now show me what you've got. The Goldfinch does a pretty good job of staying faithful to the main plot points of the novel, presented through flash backs and flash forwards a-plenty. But it's slow as the molasses in January for the first two-thirds of its two and a half hour running time. Slow and inexplicably devoid of any compelling emotional thrust to drive it forward. It seems as aimless as our young protagonist, Theo (Ansel Elgort, Oakes Fegley), as he grows into young adulthood trying to find himself. It picks up in the latter stages, as things hang in the balance and Theo must take decisive action to turn his unprincipled life around.

The incomparable Nicole Kidman, as the kindly woman who takes the young Theo in after the death of his mother, is a work of art in her own right, looking younger with each film she makes. The rest of the cast has a few names you may be familiar with (Sarah Paulson, Jeffrey Wright, Luke Wilson) and a lot that you won't. If you've read the novel and you're a ne'er-do-well with too much time on your hands, go ahead and see the film, and let me know if you concur with my assessment. If you haven't read the book, make it a clean sweep and skip this not-so-clever
forgery as well.

Grade:  C


Like Tim, I read the book and remembered liking it a lot. However, I didn't remember most of the plot details until the movie reminded me of them. Unfortunately, I have to concur with Tim's molasses metaphor. My lids were getting heavier and heavier until our main character went to Texas to live with his classic bullshitter of a dad and met Young Boris. For me, that's when The Goldfinch came alive.

Finn Wolfhard, a still-in-high-school actor from Vancouver, Canada, is totally brilliant as the street savvy Russian kid whose violent childhood has made him a crafty but charming survivor. That actor deserves an Oscar nod, for sure.

I liked the fact that the cast was full of unknowns. It made the movie seem less Hollywoodish. The Young Theo was ably played by Oakes Fegley, who has only one screen credit. He played Pete in the remake of Disney's Pete's Dragon. (By the way, I used to be married to one of the composers of the musical version of that same film, Joel Hirschhorn.)

And another unknown-to-me actor, Ansel Elgort, played the Adult Theo with equal believability. Problem here is, the movie made his character seem emotionally frozen. It works in the book. In the film, it gets a bit monotonous.

I loved the visual contrasts. From a cluttered antique store, to a deserted Texas housing development, to Broadway in all its nighttime glory. The director took his time—probably too much—shooting scenes that looked themselves like art pieces. I wish I hadn't read the book. I would've enjoyed the movie more.

Not to parrot my last review, but if you decide to see The Goldfinch, please stay for the credits. You will, for very different reasons than Young Theo, fall in love with Carel Fabritius' masterpiece.

Grade: B -

Saturday, August 24, 2019


Rated:  PG-13

STARS: Cate Blanchett, Billy Crudup, Emma Nelson, Kristen Wiig
DIRECTOR: Richard Linklater
GENRE: Comedy/Drama

It will require some patience and some faith to get through the early part of Where'd You Go, Bernadette. Patience and faith that director Richard Linklater is saving his best for last, because the first half of the film is talky and slow. Ironically, patience and faith are what are often required to deal with highly creative people, who can often come off as borderline mad.

Enter Bernadette Fox (Cate Blanchett),  a "highly decorated" architect who came to national prominence and praise for her innovative style. But marriage and becoming a mother have caused Bernadette to disconnect from the fire and passion she once poured into her work. She's dismissive and rude to her admirers and is embroiled in a nasty feud with her neighbor, Audrey (Kristen Wiig).

Because she basically doesn't like people (in these times, I think more and more of us can identify). And she appears to be hooked on prescription drugs. So how and why does she end up in Antarctica after an FBI agent comes calling, revealing that the Russians may be plotting against her? (They've got their fingers in everything these days!) That's where your patience and faith in sticking with Where'd You Go, Bernadette pays off, in learning whether she's a true whack job or maybe someone who just needs to get her mojo back!   

Billy Crudup plays Elgie, Bernadette's increasingly concerned and bewildered hubby, who is driven to lure his wife into an intervention, after coming to his wit's end with her increasingly erratic behavior. 

Newcomer Emma Nelson shows promise as Bernadette's loyal and fiercely protective teen daughter, Bee. That's refreshing, because normally it's mom and daughter who are at odds with one another. Here, mom is just at odds with the rest of the world.

The pristine beauty of Antarctica goes on full display in the second half of the film. But I felt that there should have been more penguins, and that they should have been dancing around--or something. (Watching too many animated features will spoil you that way.)

The ending feels a bit tidy and formulaic, but it's worth the price of admission to watch a true master at her craft play another master at her craft, and give it all the frenetic nuance that portraying an eccentric creative genius requires. 

Grade:  B 


Before I say one word—pro or con—about Where'd You Go, Bernadette?, I want to heap icicles of praise on the visually fascinating end credits. Do NOT exit the theater before they're done!

It's never easy portraying ultra neurotic artists on screen, showing their idiosyncrasies in manic bloom and yet having them come off as sympathetic. (I rest my case with a film like Pollack.) In this instance, however, screenwriters Holly Gent, Vince Palmo and director Richard Linklater manage to pull it off. With a ton of help from Cate Blanchett. This woman can play any part. From a crazy sister in Blue Jasmine(for which she won a 2013 Oscar), to a wealthy but repressed lesbian in Carol (for which she was nominated for a 2015 Oscar), to Katharine Hepburn in The Aviator (for which she won a 2004 Best Supporting Actress award). A truly amazing talent!

Unlike Tim, I felt the story moved along at a comfortable pace from the get-go. There were enough tense moments—at school, at the dinner table, with the next door neighbor—to keep my attention from wandering. Okay, so maybe the meeting between Blanchett's character and fellow architect Lawrence Fishburne went on a bit too long... But I felt it was needed. (Nothing like rampant denial to make us believe this woman  belonged in a looney bin.)

I found Where'd You Go, Bernadette? Really original. Even though the book by Maria Semple is billed as a novel, I kind of wished it was based on a real person. Go see this one, as I'm quite sure Ms. Blanchett will be up for yet another Academy Award in 2020.

Grade: B+

Thursday, August 8, 2019


Rated :  R

STARS:  Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie, Al Pacino
DIRECTOR: Quentin Tarantino
GENRE : Comedy/ Drama

Quentin Tarantino has been an acquired taste for me, like the teenager who's not yet crazy about the taste of beer, but he'll imbibe along with his peers just to see what all the buzz is about. I'm happy to report there's no bitter aftertaste for me with Once Upon A Time In Hollywood, Tarantino's latest--which seems tailor made for the boomer crowd, with it's delightfully creative sixties soundtrack and its partly historical and partly fictionalized story of the Charlie Manson clan and the ritualized murders of actress Sharon Tate and several of her friends back in '69.

The story centers around aging western film actor Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio), and his stunt double buddy Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt). Dalton's film career is in decline, and Booth is seen as something of a loose cannon, who may have killed his wife and gotten away with it. The story line allows DiCaprio, as he bemoans his declining prospects, to bring out his sensitive side, while Pitt gets to explore his macho instincts in spades.  

Margot Robbie plays Sharon Tate in all of her blonde-ness--and there's a cameo from Al Pacino as a  bespectacled agent, and the always expected snippet from crotchety old bastard Bruce Dern, who's become the new Brian Dennehy in that he shows up in just about every movie being made these days.  

Methinks that to get your money's worth here, you'll need to be of a certain age, or have read Vincent Bugliosi's Helter Skelter--the definitive work on the Manson family and their grisly handiwork. Younger viewers may not pick up on who some of these historical figures--Tex Watson, "Squeaky" Fromme, Jay Sebring, Abigail Folger, etc. are when their characters are introduced and thus miss that tingling sense of foreboding when you know what's about to happen--or what you think is going to happen--as the film careens to it's ultra-violent climax. But here, for once, the violence seems justified in a primal and satisfying way, because it's striking back at evil.   

You've got your celluloid heroes and you've got your real heroes. Once Upon A Time In Hollywood proposes what if, through some cosmic glitch, known reality was thrown out of whack just long enough for them to become one and the same and change history in the process? And what if we could present that idea in such a rip-roaring way that we create what's going to be the most talked about film of the year? What if heroes were around to prevent some of the senseless tragedies occurring with alarming frequency? We're still searching for some of those heroes today.

Grade:  A

For anyone planning to see this film, I have two serious suggestions: First, bone up on your Hollywood trivia so you can snicker at all the inside jokes (i.e. Clint Eastwood's spaghetti westerns, Natalie Wood's murder on a boat, the all-too-familiar alcoholic actor flubbing lines, etc.). And the second suggestion? Take a pee break before this 2 hour and 41 minute epic begins....

As anyone who has ever gone to the movies with me will attest, I always ask the same two questions on leaving the theater: "What did you like best? And what did you like least?" (It's my way of curbing too much filmic filibustering.) To answer my own two questions, the script's ending had the most original twist I think I've ever seen. And the worst thing about "Once Upon A Time....."? Too damn long. I would have cut an hour's worth of this tale. But now that Quentin T. has earned his screenwriting chops with two Academy Awards to his credit (Django Unchained, 2012; Pulp Fiction,1994), he thinks he can do no wrong.

So many great scenes... Sharon Tate (played with delightful innocence by Margot Robbie), sitting in the audience enraptured by her own performance in a Dean Martin movie; Leonard Di Caprio chastising himself in the mirror for being too drunk to remember his lines; Brad Pitt's pit bull waiting to eat his dinner until his master chows down. I could go on and on. But so did all of these scenes!

The attention to detail—the vintage cars, the well known eateries in Hollywood, the hippy outfits, the musical score—was impressive. Hats off all the behind-the-scenes production people who made it possible.

I'm glad Tim liked it. But me? Too long. Too disjointed. And too repetitious. (And I can't help wondering how the families of Sharon Tate, Jay Sebring and Abigail Folger would feel about this film.)

Grade: C+

Wednesday, July 3, 2019


Rated:  PG-13

STARS: Himesh Patel, Lily James, Kate McKinnon, Ed Sheeran
DIRECTOR: Danny Boyle
GENRE: Comedy/ Romance/ Fantasy

What a pedigree this one has going in! It's directed by Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire) and written by Jack Curtis (Love Actually, Notting Hill). Their hand prints are all over Yesterday, in the skillful way that Boyle builds dramatic tension layer by layer, and the way Curtis plays on our heartstrings with that sweet sappy love vibe. 

After a worldwide blackout during which he gets hit by a bus, struggling English musician Jack Malik (Himesh Patel) wakes up in a parallel universe where the Beatles didn't exist. He's the only one who remembers them. Malik has gone nowhere performing his own material, but he soon catches on that by learning and relearning the Beatles' songs from memory and claiming them as his own, folks are awe-struck. They've never heard anything like it. Literally. Now he's on the fast track to becoming a mega-star!

Along for the ride is his manager and childhood friend, Ellie (Lily James), who has believed in him through thick and thin. Ellie has harbored a secret passion for more than Jack's music, but has kept it under wraps all this time. With Jack's newfound fame, their bond will be sorely tested.

Yesterday makes some bold assumptions. The first being that you could separate the songs--as brilliant as they are--from The Fab Four themselves and have just any fairly competent singer perform them and that he would weave the same kind of magic and create the same unprecedented phenomenon as The Beatles themselves. (If that were true, Bing Crosby's rendition of "Hey Jude" would have been a chart topper!) No, it was all about John, Paul, George, and Ringo and who they were individually and collectively. And assuming that our younger generation of iPhone zombies--influenced by a lot of the garbage and the gangsta-rap crap that passes for music today would resonate with the innocent exuberance of an "I Want To Hold Your Hand" is the second big leap of faith. But without it, of course, you have no movie. So the willing suspension of disbelief has to kick in for you to enjoy Yesterday to the fullest. Still, it's good to hear all the old Beatles classics again, and watching the crowds go irrationally berserk for Jack and his music brings back golden memories of a sweeter day.

The cast features Kate Mckinnon in a funny turn as a corporate shrew who wants to ride Jack's wave for her own personal profit, and the real Ed Sheeran is here, playing himself, so the younger crowd--most of whom have no real grasp on what the Beatles' true legacy was--will at least have a contemporary musician they can identify with. 

Himesh Patel as Jack is an affable presence, and we are rooting for him for the most part, though we wonder if and when his conscience will get the best of him, and he will come clean about his deception. Lily James as Ellie is so vulnerable and sweet, I don't know why anybody wouldn't fall in love with her. And despite its flaws, you might fall in love with Yesterday too.

Grade:  B

    I enjoyed reading Tim's review a helluva a lot more than I did watching Yesterday. The creators, Jack Barth and Richard Curtis, obviously thought their brilliantly original concept (i.e. deleting The Beatles' existence) would carry this film. It did not. Not for me, anyway. So they tossed in a love story in case the audience didn't relate to all those classic Beatles' ditties.

    And the constant repetition of being interrupted—while auditioning his 'latest song' for his non musical parents, trying to get romantic with his up-till-then platonic gal pal, attempting to ward off his Hollywood agent's unreasonable demands—got tiresome. Shakespeare did it with style. These guys simply overdid it.

    I'll give the male lead Himesh Patel points for his vocal renderings. Especially his heartfelt version of "Yesterday." But I found it ironic that his character's last name Malik is similar to the real actor's last name Malek who played Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody. I'd say the latter performed g-clef circles around the former....

    There were some really funny one-liners. But I had trouble deciphering a lot of the dialogue. Should I blame the actors? The sound engineer? Or my auditory abilities?
    This was no Slumdog Millionaire. Lord knows, it tried to be. But that meandering script sunk the proverbial ship
    Grade: C -