Danny Boyle Wastes The Beatles And Our Time.
Imagine, just imagine; for a second you are Richard Curtis, you are the master of British Romcom, you've written Four Weddings and a Funeral, Notting Hill and Love Actually among many other great movie hits. One day, by divine inspiration, you think of the best idea of your career: There is a world blackout and society forgets who the Beatles are, all but one man, Jack Malik, a failed singer songwriter who will take the world by storm by becoming the iconic Liverpool band, all by himself. If you are any other screenwriter, a screenwriter with common sense, you take this brilliant idea and you make sure you write a comedy for the ages, if you are Richard Curtis and Danny Boyle, however, you make the same exact basic romcom you've been making for the past 20 years.
Yesterday is a great idea, an idea that is almost impossible to mess up, yet Danny Boyle and Richard Curtis manage to completely miss the mark, wasting the Beatles and our time in the process.
Jack Malik is a simple man, he lives in Suffolk with his friend/ manager/girl-who-is-obviously-in-love-with-him-from-the-very-beginning-of-the-movie-but-he-doesn't-notice/biggest fan (this info will come in handy later on). Jack has spent his life wanting to be a famous songwriter, but honestly he sucks, he seriously sucks, he writes songs about dinosaurs (as a serious subject) and his friends tell him he's great. One night, Jack decides to give up his dream in music, but just as he has given up he gets hit by a bus after a world-wide blackout, when he wakes everyone has forgotten about the Beatles; so far so good.
With his new found knowledge Jack decides to take the Beatles songs and pass them on as his own, he records an album, tours a few shitty places and as luck would have it gets discovered by Ed Sheeran, who was somehow watching the most obscure channel of Suffolk's regional television? Ok. Ed Sheeran comes to visit Jack at his house and offers him to be his opening act? And asks him to start that week? Everything about this whole Ed Sheeran thing seems highly improbable, but so does a world blackout and everyone collectively forgetting about the Beatles so I'll let it slide as a nice touch of fiction.
Jack plays with Ed, Ed tells him he's Salieri and Jack is Mozart (Ed has really low self-esteem, I mean he's known this guy for a day, chill Ed, CHILL!). After Jack completely destroys Ed Sheeran's self-esteem, he is approached by possibly the rudest music agent ever, who just straight up tells him that he is going to be the biggest pop star in the world, after one single song, really?
Regardless, Jack is making it, his family have a big celebration with all his friends and Ellie. Ellie, His agent/ friend, tells Jack she loves him, as if it wasn't obvious from the get-go, but, shockingly, Jack is super surprised, so surprised, that for a second he turns into Hugh Grant and starts stuttering like an idiot; and it was at this precise moment I knew Richard Curtis was going to do the same shit he always does, he was going to turn a brilliant idea into one more of his same old romcoms. For the rest of the movie Hugh Grant's ghost loomed over us waiting to take Jack's body and stutter some more while giving us sad puppy eyes.
After his friend's declaration, Jack swiftly makes an exit and next thing we know, he is in LA, where everyone has agreed that after ONE SINGLE SONG, he is the undisputed GREATEST singer-song writer of all time. OK SURE, it's fantasy right anything can happen. For the next half an hour or so Richard Curtis delights us with his view of the evil inside the music business, from the marketing to the crazy hyperbolic agents... And to be completely frank he gets most of it wrong, in his desire to write the (american) music industry as evil and spineless, he forgets how it even works. Musicians take years to develop into marketable products, they take months and months to create albums and they certainly don't become the biggest pop-sensation in the world after ONE SONG.
Regardless, Jack meets Ellie, his friend/manager in Liverpool, they get drunk and they almost do the sex (that is the only way it should be said you dirty f*cks). Ellie says no because she wants a relationship, so she leaves Liverpool and in the most Richard Curtis way possible, Jack runs to the station (mind you she's taken a fucking taxi five minutes before him) and gets there on time to talk to her. And for me this IS the defining moment of the movie, because at this point I thoroughly started disliking the movie.
Ellie speaks as Jack stutters (thanks Richard, so original) and tells him (mind you she is his biggest fan and the only person who has ever fully supported him): if you want to be with me Jack, you gotta stay here. Meaning: leave your dream and stay with me to be a teacher in Suffolk. See, this plot point is not bad, I mean appealing to nostalgia and human relationships over fame and fortune is great, except Richard and Danny forgot to add the context into the script. We haven't seen any family of hers in Suffolk, she has literally two friends and a group of students which we see for thirty seconds, so she has absolutely no motivation to stay in Suffolk apart from trumping this poor man's dreams, which in turn goes against her character, since she is his biggest supporter since they were 12 (WTF Richard, please, be coherent).
After this cheesy chapter of a very bad love story, Jack returns to LA to continue his express tour through fame. He talks to Ellie on Friday, records on Saturday and that same day, a day after declaring her love, Ellie goes ahead and starts dating some other dude? To be completely honest, the whole timeline of the story is extremely confusing, it seems like it all happens in the span of a week, it's just very badly composed, who gets famous, prepares an album gets girl looses girl to another guy, goes on a late late show and releases his album all in a week, it's just a complete shitshow.
And with 10 minutes left, Boyle and Curtis decided they didn't actually want to make this movie and ended it in the most disappointing way they could think; it actually takes ability to be so bad. Jack suddenly decides he loves Ellie because of a flashback we were given absolutely no context to and so goes to Wembley, tells everyone he never wrote any of the songs and that it was some guys called Ringo, John, Paul and George (I will get into this later). Jack then tells all those in attendance, including Ellie's boyfriend, that he loves her, of course the guy is completely chill about it and starts dating Ellie's best friend right on the spot? Then we fast forward some time and Ellie and Jack have children and they are playing and singing in the park? It's f*cking pathetic, it's just bad, it's rushed, it makes no sense. You are telling me Jack has all the success and money in the world and he gives it up for SUFFOLK? If you've ever been to Suffolk, you leave Suffolk, you don't stay to sing soppy songs in the park. The ending is just absolutely ridiculous it makes no sense, you have over an hour of buildup for an ending that has not been built up, it's just really lazy writing, it's horrible.
Ok onto why him saying the Beatles wrote the music is dumb: It was established early on that no one knew who the Beatles were, they don't even exist; he visited John Lennon and the man is a painter, he has no clue about music, so then why is this meant to make sense, as soon as people leave the stadium they are gonna look up the Beatles and they are gonna see they don't exist, so they are going to assume he was lying and so he would be famous again, it's just a really lazy way of ending the movie it makes no sense, it's not coherent.
And, again, everything that has been forgotten makes no sense. When Jack looks the Beatles up he finds nothing, then he looks up Oasis and nothing, so as an audience we assume everything that has been influenced by the Beatles no longer exists. But then Richard Curtis breaks this rule because Coldplay exist (they are heavily influenced by the Beatles if you didn't know), but then cigarettes don't exist? And neither does Coca Cola? Nor Harry Potter? Like why? Is Harry Potter John Lennon as a wizard? None of it makes any sense, if you create a fictional world be coherent with it.
What annoys me most about this movie, as a huge Beatles fan, however, is the misuse these two make of the Beatles legacy. The Beatles didn't become the greatest pop phenomenon, and one of the greatest bands in history because of how good their songs were, yes their songs WERE great, but the Beatles became huge because of their cultural impact, they redefined what musicians were meant to be, they were involved in world issues and they influenced an entire generation of music. The movie should have focused on that, not a quick and sloppy romcom that completely disregards the legacy of these legends.