As a music lover, the phrase, “written by Paul McCartney” almost always signifies excellence in the performance to come. For a movie lover, this is not necessarily the case. Sure, A Hard Day’s Night is a great film, Help! is better than average, and Yellow Submarine is a fun departure from mainstream animation. Heck, even Magical Mystery Tour has a campy sort of charm to it.
Apparently, the same rule that applies to music also applies to cinema; without the rest of The Beatles, P…ul McCartney’s talent is just not the same. Sure, he can act fairly well, and the music is way above average, but taken as a whole, this film just plain stinks. The plot here is extremely thin. I have seen many _ hour sitcoms with more plot lines than this film. If you were to take out all of the musical numbers, you would probably have about 40 minutes of actual dialog. The rest of the film is filled with musical breaks.
The good news is, this film has the best soundtrack of any B-movie in history. While not all of the songs are classics, many are, and they have been re-recorded for the film. It is a real treat to see George Martin behind the recording console, even if it is just a movie. This film is really just a collection of music videos, with a simple plot sketched out to work as a transitional tool. If you want to see some music videos, this is your film. Otherwise, viewers would do themselves a favor to steer clear.
A film that focuses on music deserves a soundtrack that does the same. This track, oddly coded in Dolby Digital 4.0, addresses those needs, but it doesn’t address them very well. While the dialog in much of the film is low and difficult to understand, the music portions are much more dynamic. The bad news is, it’s still not all that great. Many tones are weirdly distorted, as if the recording is designed to cut out anything over a certain decibel level. The drums sound particularly horrible, as they seem to have fallen victim to the worst of all 80’s musical mistakes, the electronic drum set.
The worst bit, however, is the low end. I was not expecting much to happen in this department, due to the 4.0 format, but my expectations were obviously way off target. Not only is there some low end, but there is way, way too much low end. The muddled bass notes often times drown almost everything else out during the musical numbers, eventually leaving the viewer with one big sonic mess.
The picture on this disc is exactly what one might expect to find on a film from 1984 that has not undergone any re-mastering. Dark colors are faded, and the lighting as a whole is mostly dim and without detail. Bright colors work better, though when two bright colors are side-by-side, some bleed over does occur. Grain also shows up from time to time, though once the film really gets going, it’s not that bad. The most annoying defect, however, is the presence of shudder in many of the frames. Some of this is due to the use of a hand held camera, but the majority of it is just a bad transfer. If the viewer watches any object on the edge of the screen, that object will often times slide in and out of the frame, as if the entire film was shot on a boat.
If the film was better, I would say that Fox should have restored the picture. However, with a film such as this one, they probably just did the best they could, within reason. That’s really all that I can ask.
As would be expected, the only extras on this disc are the theatrical trailer and the international trailer. It would have been nice to have seen some behind-the-scenes footage of McCartney recording the new tracks for the film, but who knows… such footage may not even exist. The trailers are mostly sufficient for me, anyway. A bad film doesn’t deserve a ton of extras. It’s just not right.
If Paul had let someone else write this film, it would certainly have had more substance than it does. The problem with this film is, it is billed as if it actually was a film, and not, as it turns out, a collection of odd music videos. If you are a die-hard Paul McCartney fan, you might enjoy this disc. For Beatles fans and casual viewers, however, you might want to pass on this one. Rent A Hard Day’s Night instead. You certainly can’t go wrong with that.
Special Features List
- Theatrical Trailer
- International Theatrical Trailer