Movie Recommendation: Across the Universe

The pictures below are random shots of the film. Click the images to see them larger.

I saw the trailer for this film sometime last summer and have wanted to see it ever since. We rented it Thursday night and watched it last night.

Kind of odd, really. I normally hate covers of Beatles songs. I never saw the point of remaking a Beatles song. The one exception that I can think of is Joe Cocker’s With a Little Help from my Friends. It’s just a great arrangement.

For the Benefit of Mr. Kite (Eddie Izzard)
Eddie Izzard Sings ‘For the Benefit of Mr. Kite’

But this movie had me intrigued. An entire movie musical made up on nothing but Beatles songs set during the turbulent 1960’s. It sounded like a perfect match and, for the most part, it is.

NYC dances around JoJo as he arrives in NYC to ‘Come Together’

The plot of this movie isn’t highly original. Boy meets girl – boy loses girl to the anti-war movement – boy gets girl back. (Sorry if you think that’s a spoiler, but if you watch the movie you’ll realize it couldn’t end any other way.)

Fortunately, the characters are fleshed out enough and the performances so good that the viewer cares about them despite their familiarity – or perhaps because of it.

I Want You
Uncle Sam ‘wants’ Max

The blending of the songs and the inventive visuals along with some superb acting and sometimes amazing singing make this a great film experience. If going to theaters weren’t such a pain nowadays, I would have loved to see this on the big screen. However, I know that it would have been ruined by narcissistic humans who can’t stand not being the center of attention for more than 30 minutes at a time.

(I tend to bitch about that a lot – sorry.)

She’s So Heavy
She’s So Heavy

The main character, Jude (Jim Sturgess) is from Liverpool (natch) and even looks quite a bit like a young Paul McCartney. He goes to America in search of his birth father. He achieves this goal but more importantly he finds his best friend in Max (Joe Anderson) and the love of his life in Lucy (Evan Rachel Wood), Max’s sister.

Dear Prudence - Max, Jude & Lucy
Max, Jude and Lucy sing to ‘Dear Prudence’

After moving to New York city, their tight-nit group is filled out with Sadie (Dana Fuchs – whose voice is frakkin’ amazing), Jojo (Martin Luther McCoy) and Prudence (T.V. Carpio).

Along with the music and the obvious names, there are many other nods to the Beatles: Max is once seen fixing a fan with a silver hammer; Prudence meets the gang when she comes through the bathroom window; Jude draws a still life after slicing a green apple in half…you get the idea.

The best name ever for a restaurant

There are several nice cameos that really work in the film – Joe Cocker plays three different characters and sings Come Together (probably the best musical number in the film). Bono plays Mr. Robert and sings I Am the Walrus and Salma Hayek plays the Bang, Bang, Shoot, Shoot nurse in Happiness is a Warm Gun.

Happiness is a Warm Gun (Bang, bang, shoot, shoot)
My husband’s favorite part of the movie

The film was written and directed by Julie Taymor (Frida) and she did a terrific job. The movie is visually beautiful – even in the non-fantastic scenes – and from what I saw in some of the behind-the-scene footage included on the bonus disc, she really knows how to get the best from her performers.

So, if you like the Beatles, musicals or are interested in America during the 1960’s I suspect you would really like this movie.

All You Need is Love - JoJo, Sadie, (Max) & Jude
JoJo, Sadie and Jude sing ‘All You Need is Love’ while Max looks on

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One Response to “Movie Recommendation: Across the Universe”

  1. Ben December 2, 2009 at 1:48 am #

    I love this movie so much. Excellent singing, great story and fantastic acting. Dana Fuchs has a phenomenal rustic, down-to-earth voice and Joe Anderson sound pretty sexy himself in Happiness is a Warm Gun. One of my all-time favorite movies.

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