It’s possible to have great fun in a predictable formula movie. My daughter and me went to see Yesterday, about a luckless singer who has a road accident and wakes up in a world without the Beatles songbook. It slowly dawns on poor Jack that he is the only one who remembers the Fab Four. Screenplay by Richard Curtis, directed by Danny Boyle. That’s a pretty snazzy premise, innit? We went during a sweltering hot day, the movie theater was cool, and it was the tiniest viewing room in our city. “It’s just like a movie theater people would have at home,” she exclaimed. We were the only ones sitting there, and so we sang along to all the tunes. Great fun.
I could mention that Jack (Himesh Patel) and Ellie (Lily James) don’t have very much chemistry together. I could also mention that Kate McKinnon as the obnoxious record producer got on my nerves very quickly, but maybe that was what she was there for. Ed Sheeran has a very self-deprecating part and plays it surprisingly well (my daughter is a fan, I am not). There are great moments in the movie, like when Jack plays “Yesterday” for the first time, because it is so much better than anything else he has written himself. Well, how could it not be? And how could Jack not be tempted to have so much success? And it’s not theft, is it? There is a funny running gag about him trying to remember all of the lyrics to “Eleanor Rigby”. And I started grinning when Meera Syal and Sanjeev Bhaskar turned up as Jack’s parents. It felt like I was the only one in the whole world to remember Goodness Gracious Me. Just kidding.
Other than that – well, if Jack would make the right decision and go for Ellie instead of a career, the movie would only be fifty minutes long. Of course he goes for success and fame and money. What would you do if Ed Sheeran looks at you as if you were his artistic role model? Almost all of the movie is predictable. No matter – we didn’t expect any art-house take on I Wanna Hold Your Hand. We needed a cool summer movie, and a cool summer movie we got. A great flick to remember it is not, but it made my daughter switch from her disposable pop tunes to “Something”. And “Hey Jude”. And “Abbey Road”. And “Sergeant Pepper”. As for Danny Boyle and Richard Curtis, maybe it’s time to get back to work. They both might have promising solo careers.