“The world is full of miracles,” Ellie Appleton says in the new movie, Yesterday.
“Like what?” her best friend, Jack, demands.
“Benedict Cumberbatch becoming a sex symbol.” Little jokes like that one—and the moment when Jack, having lost his two front teeth calls, himself a “reverse rabbit”—make the film a real delight, even before the absurd plot starts up.
In Yesterday, struggling singer-songwriter Jack Malik (Himesh Patel) decides to hang up his guitar and go back to teaching instead of pursuing a career in music. Moments later, the whole world experiences a 12-second power outage, during which Jack gets hit by a bus. A few days after that, he comes to the astonishing realization that no one but him (well, almost) knows who The Beatles are. The band never existed. Jack begins passing classic Beatles songs off as his own work, leading him down a short, direct road to international stardom. Meanwhile, he finds himself on a long and winding road with his best friend and manager, Ellie (Lily James), who longs for something more from him.
Yesterday suffers a bit from having too many ideas. Not every aspect of the movie is totally necessary and some parts do not fully add up. For example, the bus hitting Jack has nothing to do with the main plot of the film, except perhaps to demonstrate how down on his luck he is. Nevertheless, Yesterday takes a fun concept and executes it charmingly. I enjoyed seeing how the odd story unfolded and got a kick out of the little jokes that built off the main concept. For example, over the course of the story, Jack discovers a handful of other common items that have disappeared.
The cast has wonderful chemistry together, especially the leads. As Ellie and Jack, Lily James and Himesh Patel are believable as both old friends and potential lovers. They are able to portray the silly scenes with a lightness that is infectious and are thoroughly sympathetic in the more serious moments. The supporting cast is hilarious, adding plenty of levity to the parts when Jack is anxious. Ed Sheeran plays himself in a small role that is fun without verging on self-parody. Kate McKinnon is very funny as Jack’s horrible agent, Debra Hammer. As Rocky, Jack’s burnout roadie, Joel Fry is pretty annoying at first, but he grew on me.
Although sometimes predictable, Yesterday still features some surprising turns, a love story that works, great music, and a whimsical, fun plot. I rate it 4 of 5 stars.
Yesterday was written by Jack Barth and Richard Curtis and directed by Danny Boyle. It runs 1 hour 56 minutes and is rated PG-13 for suggestive content and language.
Streaming on Netflix, Murder Mystery stars Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston as Nick and Audrey Spitz, a couple finally going on a European honeymoon 15 years into their marriage when they end up roped into a murder mystery on a rich viscount’s family yacht. As funny as Aniston and Sandler are together, this movie is a real clunker. It garnered plenty of press about how many people watched it despite the bad reviews. But it’s Netflix. We all watch plenty of bad, stupid things on Netflix knowing they are not good. If I paid to see this movie in the theater, I would be pretty annoyed. Esquire even asked in its review if the film is just an expensive commercial for allergy medicine. Murder Mystery isn’t even bad in the so-bad-it’s-good kind of way. It is just rotten. The story is cliched. The characters are flat. I suspect many viewers were really looking at their phone the whole time. I do not recommend. Just watch the corny true crime show you really want to watch instead. (I’m looking at you, Forensic Files.)
Murder Mystery was directed by Kyle Newacheck and written by James Vanderbilt. It runs 1 hour 37 minutes and is rated PG-13 for violence/bloody images, crude sexual content, and language.