By now readers of Popped Density know my relationship with movie musicals is complicated. As a concept, I am totally for it. Nuts to those people who don't break out into song in their day to day lives. But when I sit down to actually watch a musical, I just find myself not enjoying the experience. No matter how many times I tell myself this one will be different, it never is. If I do grow to like the musical, it's with repeated viewings usually spawned by my fondness for a particular song. That's what happened with Chicago and Moulin Rouge!, the only musicals on Jordyn's Official Canonized List of Favorite Movies. Right now, I feel I'm on the verge of adding another musical to my list.
Across the Universe (2007)
I've been a fan of The Beatles my whole life. My father was the one who forced their music upon me. Luckily, I was young, impressionable, and not into rebelling against my parents' musical tastes. They were probably my favorite band until my discovery of The Carpenters, but even I know The Beatles are the best rock 'n' roll band that ever was and ever will be.*
So in 2007, when trailers for the jukebox musical Across the Universe were released, I was hopeful. I mean, I was already going to love all the music, which is pretty much the point of a musical...of course I would love it!
Nope. I was decidedly underwhelmed. I bought the soundtrack anyway but put the movie out of my mind. Then I started working in a video store where all movies were free for me to rent. So I got it on a whim and liked it significantly more this time around.
Across the Universe centers around Jude (Jim Sturgess), a Liverpudlian bastard born shortly after World War II. He journeys across the pond to find his American father, who turns out to have his own life and family and pretty much gives him the brush. Jude then meets Max (Joe Anderson) who befriends him and takes him home to meet the fam, including his sweet girl-next-door sister, Lucy (Evan Rachel Wood). Both are attracted to one another in spite of Lucy's boyfriend stationed in Vietnam. Jude and Max move to New York City and shack up with aspiring singer Sadie (Dana Fuchs) and her guitarist Jojo (Martin Luther McCoy). After the death of her boyfriend, Lucy moves in with the group and falls for Jude as Max is drafted and as Sadie and Jojo become famous musicians.
Psychedelia is not my thing and there is an ABUNDANCE in Across the Universe. I've even heard it's a good movie to watch while you're high, so there you go. Personally, I find the plots of musicals to be a bit thin. (Have you watched Grease recently?) But stuff happens in this one. Stuff actually happens. The characters change and evolve. The film seems to take place over a significant period of time which makes these changes believable. So it makes sense when Lucy starts as your all-American high school girl, then becomes a hippie, and then a radical protestor.
Now, I've only seen Across the Universe twice and as a rule, I have to watch a movie three times before I can put it on my list. And I definitely need a few more viewings before I consider such things. So for now all I'm saying is maybe. But I'm really glad I found another musical that I like enough to say maybe.