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)

Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band

With the pacing of a chess match, and the musicality of…a chess match, Sgt. 
Pepper’s 
Lonely Hearts Club Band is a tough slog, even for us, frequent champions of the terrible.

How is it humanly possible to turn great Beatles songs into unlistenable mush? Well, much of the blame lies at the feet of the Bee Gees, which give many of us the heebie- jeebies. Their squeaky voices and generous pompadours are enough to turn stomachs, that’s for sure, but it’s not like there’s not lots of blame to slather around.

They, along with Peter Frampton, are members of a supergroup from which the film’s title is derived. They’re stars of Heartland, USA, a fictional town located in (wait for it) the heartland of the United States. They probably should’ve hailed from Tin Ear, Indiana.

BD Records signs, and then exploits them, but it’s hard to tell who’s exploiting whom. A strong case could be made that when it comes to exploitation, it’s that of the cochlea or auditory nerve.

Filmed mostly around an MGM backlot gazebo that’s probably given a healthy workout during episodes of Gilmore Girls, Sgt. Pepper’s features musical numbers as pedestrian as the town square sidewalks.

Steve Martin mallets his way through Maxwell’s Silver Hammer, Barry Gibb badly warbles A Day in the Life, Billy Preston sashays his way through Get Back…And speaking of getting things back…how ’bout that lengthy run-time?

On the Really Awful Movies Podcast, we have occasionally delved into atrociously bad musicals, discussing films like Xanadu and The Apple. And stinkers though they were,  they were fun and spirited. This one though, yikes. Steer clear.

* (out of 5)

[Tune in to our Really Awful Movies Podcast discussion of Sgt. Peppers!]