Across the Universe – Review

Across the Universe should have worked. The brilliance of Once still lingered in my heart and here was a musical filled with Beatles songs. I should have got West Side Story with Paul and John. Instead, I got Rent without the AIDS. “But John,” you say. “Rent without AIDS is just a crappy New York love story set to song.” Exactly.

I should back up for those of you who have never heard of this movie. Across the Universe follows two main characters, Jude and Lucy (/rollseyes). There are five or so other characters that are central to the story, but those are the two you are supposed to care about. Hint: you don’t.

While most musicals make up their own songs, this one uses Beatles tunes (like “Hey Jude” and “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds”). I’d joked with a friend prior to watching that if the movie sucked, I could at least listen to it and be entertained. Wrong. See, I’d mistakenly thought the movie would use the Beatles’ original master tracks. Instead, I get a cast of Rent rejects trying to imitate the Fab Four. To be fair, some of them do an OK job — Jude, for instance. The rest made me wish John Lennon would raise from the dead as a zombie and devour their brains.

Another problem I had is that I’m pretty sure the director wanted to get all his favorite Beatles songs into the movie, even if they didn’t fit. There were several moments where the movie paused and a crappy music video was inserted. And by the end it seemed like they were running out of time, so you only get parts of a song. Sometimes, you get two songs mashed on top of one another. Two songs that have absolutely no similarities in rhythm, tone, or style. And don’t get started on the crappy, drugged-out songs where everyone gets naked. Mind you, I have no problem with drug-induced nudity, but only if it’s done properly in context… What?

I may have been too harsh on this one, but I expected so much more. There are some cameos that are funny and the cast isn’t horrible (well, most of them anyway). But if you’re in the mood for a musical, rent Once or even Rent. Both are better movies and (I can’t believe I’m saying this) their songs are better.

Grade: C

One thought on “Across the Universe – Review

  1. I just watched this and don’t think I could feel any more differently about this movie than you did. I was presently surprised by the unique uses of many of the songs and thrilled that I didn’t have to watch the same song / scene that I had seen a thousand times (The “I wanna hold your hand scene” is a perfect example of this). To be fair, the story is one we have seen before but I was O.K. with that because the way it was told carried the movie. I could go on and on but I will end this by saying that if you liked Moulin Rouge, Once, or any of what I like to call modern musicals this will be right up your alley.


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