John, Paul, George and Ringo, otherwise known as The Rutles, spend their lives fleeing from screaming fans, aggravating their tour manager and generally larking about without a care in the world in this weekend-in-the-life snapshot as they prepare for a live show whilst looking after Paul’s grandfather (Wilfrid Brambell) along the way.
I’m not what you’d call a Beatles fan. I don’t dislike them, I’m just not very familiar with their work, which may seem odd considering I’ve always lived in England, and yet here I am aged 27, having heard (before seeing this film) probably less than 10 songs from the Fab Four. I couldn’t even recognise which Beatle was which at the start of this film, except for McCartney, who has a more recognisable face considering I still see it around now and then. Now I’ve still heard less than 20 (there’s about 11 in this film, and I recognised 3 or 4) and I can safely say that their music is fine, I’ve just got no desire to listen to it. You don’t want to know what I’d rather listen to instead. Oh, and this film was selected for me to watch by Daniel Lackey from Forced Viewing and The Nightmare Gallery. Sorry Lackey, I just didn’t like it.
So, the movie. Well, my first issue was there isn’t much of a plot. For me, this is a very bad sign, as a narrative is what I cling to most in movies. It’s not until the third act that there’s anything resembling a conflict in the film, with the four lads ricocheting from one location to another, occasionally breaking into song whenever the mood strikes them. I wasn’t exactly expecting some great dramatic story, but I was hoping for at least something that held together from one scene to the next. Alas I was left wanting, as it is clear this is supposed to be more humorous than cohesive, which would have been fine had I found much of it funny.
Comedy is, of course, subjective, so just because I barely cracked a smile doesn’t mean no-one else will, but nevertheless that was the case here. The delivery of many so-called-jokes was poorly timed, and some recurring gags began to grate after the first call-back (OK, Wilfrid Brambell was constantly called a dirty old man on Steptoe and Son, but does every character he meets need to point out that he’s “very clean” here? Just settle at once, please.). It also didn’t help that literally every character in this film is at least annoying and at best unbearable, meaning there is no one I want to spend any time with whatsoever, so thankfully the film is only 87 minutes long.
The only segments of the film I enjoyed at all came from Brambell, who showed an ability to both act and be funny, attributes not shared by pretty much anyone else in the film. Whether he was pretending to be a waiter in a casino in order to con tips to gamble with, or mocking Ringo for reading a book instead of going out and living life, the few chuckles I had all invariably came from him.
Would I have preferred this film if it had starred a band I genuinely liked? Possibly. Put The Rolling Stones in there and I’d at least appreciate the music,, although I wasn’t much of a fan of Gimme Shelter, so maybe not. If I’d wanted to listen to music, I’d stick on an album. If I want to watch comedy, I’ll watch or listen to a stand-up routine (speaking of which, head over here to buy Nick Rehak’s comedy album). When I watch a film I want to see a story, and be entertained. Said story can implement music, and it’s encouraged that it be funny, but it shouldn’t sacrifice the actual narrative in favour of either of those aspects.
Choose Life 5/10