I saw this movie before when I was in college, but hadn't seen it since. Went to check it out at a local theater that was screening it for its fiftieth anniversary (I'm assuming). Well, I have to admit that it was a bit less than I remembered it being. My memory of it was that it was a four star movie; well, it's not quite. When the film is funny, it's very funny, but a lot of the humor comes off as very forced and is more annoying than funny. Lennon's comedy bits suffer from this the most; that bathtub scene . . . I wanted to hold his head under the water. Not funny.
But the film still has a wonderful, unique aesthetic and a wild, swinging energy. And there are genuine ideas here too. A scene in which the band retreats inside a literal cage in order to escape their fans is clearly more than just a gag; and so is a scene where Lennon is confronted by a woman who's not entirely sure whether he's John Lennon or not. There's some ideas about celebrity that are kind of ahead of their time there, I think. And the solo Ringo stuff is pure gold; Ringo really, in my opinion, neatly steals the movie - which is kind of ironic, given his lesser status in the band. And it goes without saying that the music is great. I mean, I don't need to say that, do I? Fifty years on, if you don't know this music is great, you're just an idiot and nothing I say is going to convince you. That Can't Buy Me Love sequence is still one of the most exuberant expressions of joy I've ever seen in a movie; THAT holds up. All in all, I was disappointed to see that some of the sillier stuff had lost its luster for me, but there's still a lot of really great stuff here. All in all, it's a very good movie, if it maybe falls a bit short of true greatness. Recommended. *** 1/2 stars.