Bohemian Rhapsody

When it comes to their approach to Bohemian Rhapsody, there’s a wack of critics who’d probably confuse beach reading with Tolstoy, if Rotten Tomatoes is to be believed.

The world’s most fan-friendly band deserves a fan-friendly movie, and Bohemian Rhapsody is just that. Critics, who seem to delighting in the phrase, “is this the real thing, or is this just fantasy,” as if they’ve discovered a new element of the periodic table, are missing the mark: needlessly nitpicking timelines, bellyaching about whether the movie accurately depicts Freddie’s sexuality or descent into debauchery (as if that, rather than insights into the creative process, is something more interesting to an audience expecting to see the story of Queen) and ruminating about the use of CG for crowd scenes (we’ve got news for you: wrangling 10,000 extras to recreate Wembley stadium ain’t in the cards).

Bohemian Rhapsody (as it should be), is performance-driven in terms of musicality and thespianism. Rami Malek’s incredible physicality is more than enough to carry the day. He fills out Freddie’s wife-beater and makes the mercury rise. See guys, two can play at the Queen pun-game.

Yes, the beats are often Behind the Music, yes the “clap clap stomps” that inspired “We Will Rock You” are so cheesy they should be grated on bruschetta, and yes the band members not initialed F.M. fade into the background more than they should…but there’s no denying (despite what you’ve read elsewhere) that this is an immensely enjoyable popcorn movie.

Mike Myers is cracking as a nay-saying EMI exec who bought into Pink Floyd’s excesses but balked at Queen’s. Aaron McCusker (of the original, superior UK version of Shameless) is sweetly endearing as Mercury’s love interest, Jim.

Is the Freddie characterization too straight, too gay, not bi enough, not gay enough? He could’ve been defined in life, so leave him alone in death.

Will you get more subtext than text about what made him tick? Hardly. But what you’ll come away with is the rush of being able to experience the rise to fame of one of the world’s greatest bands, if you were too young to experience it the first go-round.

And for a supersonic talent like Freddie Mercury, that’s tribute enough.

On with the show.

***1/2 (out of 5)

The Really Awful Movies Podcast

Smart talk, dumb movies? That’s not a bad description. The Really Awful Movies Podcast is a celebration of genre cinema of all stripes, with a focus on horror. If you like what you read here, or in print (our acclaimed book, Death by Umbrella!) you’ll (hopefully) like what’s being talked about there.

Every week on the show, Jeff and I get down to the business of critiquing films that occasionally get short-shrift from the mainstream. Despite our name (derived from a phrase one of our mothers used to describe a burgeoning interest in horror, “why do you have to watch those awful movies?”) we are relentlessly positive, silver lining types. Even as we fire broadsides, we pull back and offer praise and constructive criticism (something lacking in movie criticism).

Over the course of hundreds of episodes, we have explored everything from misguided musicals (Xanadu), to lurid Italian cannibal movies (Cannibal Ferox), meatheaded action flicks (Shotgun), and even silent surrealist films (Un Chien Andalou).

The beauty about our mandate is we’re never pigeonholed. As much as we could chat about our favorite slashers week after week, we have the luxury of pulling back and delving into film noir, like we did with D.O.A., or peeling back the curtain for some 70s exploitation (The Baby).

We realize that time is precious. When we started The Really Awful Movies Podcast, we wanted to create bite-sized morsels rather than buffet-style entrees. As a result (with a few exceptions), our episodes are roughly 30-45 minutes in length. We cut right to the core, with some extemporaneous personal anecdotes and detours as we see fit. Mostly though, we place our focus where it should be: on the film.

You may have wondered about our banner…The Lamberto Bava film, Demons, is a mutual favorite. It’s a perfect combination of hilarity and horror, a lunk-headed oddity that is impossible not to love. And those three demons on the poster capture the spirit of the film  (and our podcast) perfectly, even if there are only two of us (we have a guest on occasion, so there’s room for a third).

If you’d like to subscribe to The Really Awful Movies Podcast, we’d really appreciate it. We’re not big on Patreon. Instead, we urge listeners to grab copies of our book (soon to be plural – update to come) to support us.

Thanks for listening! And thanks for reading too, we update Really Awful Movies as humanly possible.

Best,

Chris & Jeff