Friday, June 28, 2019

Geezer report: Go see 'Yesterday'

The premise is intriguing: when the entire planet suffers a bout of amnesia during a mysterious 12-second power outage, only struggling down-and-out singer/songwriter Jack Malik is rendered immune – because he happened to get hit by a bus and is rendered unconscious in those very same 12 seconds.

When he regains consciousness, he shortly finds out that he's the only person in the world who remembers The Beatles and their songs. And while he knows it's fraudulent, he turns that knowledge into a superstar-making career move. Every song he "writes" is spectacular, because nobody has ever heard of Lennon-McCartney before.

That's the storyline behind "Yesterday," an appealing little flick that features Himesh Patel in the role of Jack, which requires the obligatory suspension of belief as time-warping movies usually do. But we've done it before, even willingly, with flicks like the "Back to the Future" franchise, "Field of Dreams" or even "It's a Wonderful Life," to name a few favorites in a very large genre of mind-benders.

There are a couple of things going for this movie. One of them is Patel, primarily known for his work in the BBC television series "Eastenders". The surprise here is that Patel, in his first movie role, is a pretty darn good singer. He actually does his own singing and instrument playing in the movie, adding a touch of authenticity to the fantasy.

Another thing going for this movie is the soundtrack. How are you going to top The Beatles? I think I read the producers got the rights/permission to use 20 Beatle tunes (an expensive proposition), of which 17 are used. The songs appear mostly as snippets to move the story along, but for an old geezer like myself, who once wanted to hold your hand and years ago turned 64 on that long and winding road, Beatle snippets are more than enough.

It reminds us of what a joy the Beatles music was in real time, and still is in real life. As if we need to be reminded.

There seems to be a bunch of movies suddenly appearing on screen featuring iconic soundtracks: "Bohemian Rhapsody" gives us Queen; "Rocketman" gives us Elton John; and a new movie slated for release later this year, "Blinded By the Light," gives us Bruce Springsteen. It was only a matter of time before we were given The Beatles. Are the Rolling Stones far behind? It's a good time to be alive.

Ed Sheeran, a real-life top-selling recording artist who is chipmunk cute, plays himself in a nice turn here. He provides some of the comic relief, trying to convince Jack to retitle "Hey Jude" to "Hey Dude." Lily James is engaging as Jack's manager and unrequited love interest until it's almost too late, and Saturday Night Live's Kate McKinnon is brutally effective as a Los Angeles record producer, if not sometimes over the top.

I'm not going to give away any spoilers, but if you see the flick, make sure to stay for the last half-hour. There's a moment in there that's absolutely breathtaking for Beatles fans. And that's all I'm gonna say about that. Intrigued, aren't you? It's worth it.

 •   •   •

I went to see this movie at Tinseltown in Salisbury. Today is the opening day for the first-run movie, and Tinseltown offered a 10:30 a.m. showing, which is perfect for us geezers. No screaming kids. No pooh-poohing millennials. It virtually guarantees that you'll stay awake for the whole one hour, 56-minute running time, which is nice. And unless you've had a whole pot of coffee for breakfast, you'll likely stay out of the restroom, too, which means you won't miss anything.

I was one of 15 people in the theater. All of us, I think, were of the Silver Sneakers generation, which means we're the only ones who will probably "get" this movie.

I even asked the college-age ticket taker if only "old" people were seeing this flick.

"So far," he chuckled, looking me square in the eye.

Let it be.

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