A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Movie 226 – A Hard Day’s Night

A Hard Day’s Night – October 12th, 2010

Today at my workplace we ran a special event for teenagers. See, libraries aren’t just places for author visits and lectures and book clubs – though we do have those too. No, today we did a Beatles RockBand afternoon for teens. Result? Surprisingly good, considering we have no official teen services librarian and what little publicity got done for it had the wrong date. I take little responsibility there though, since I’m not the one who does posters and I didn’t get to see them until well after they’d been distributed. Oh well. We still got a decent group of teens and they had a lot of fun singing along to the songs they knew and laughing at each other through the ones they didn’t. And they wanted us to do it again. I’m all for that, even if Andy and I did bring everything in from home since the library only owns a Wii and a single guitar. Anyhow, we had a good time and it put me in a very Beatles mood for the rest of the evening, so we tossed this in when I got home.

I’ll say this about this movie, it’s no great masterpiece. I mean, looking at it objectively, it’s a showcase for a pop group to be cocky and wacky and sing a bunch of songs. The whole point is to give fans some eye and ear candy. And while I love the Beatles and have a high tolerance for their cockiness, I can also watch this movie and see them dashing off twenty minutes before transmission of a live television broadcast they’re supposed to be on and think both that they’re funny and of course they’ll be back in time and also that they seem like an utter nightmare for a manager and a director to deal with. As a fan, I love them. I can watch this in the spirit of them being fun-loving youth icons. But I also know that if this exact plot was played out by any of the current crop of pop stars (except maybe Lady Gaga, which would be a bit surreal) I’d be rolling my eyes. Even say, the New Kids on the Block, who were popular at just the right time to have supposedly been totally my thing (but never were, since I was still firmly entrenched in classic rock at the time and fawning over George Harrison) would have made me gag.

But this isn’t a New Kids movie, or a Jonas Brothers movie, and Lady Gaga is nowhere to be seen. This is a Beatles movie. And as such it’s got plenty of John, Paul, George and Ringo getting up to all sorts of mischief while their manager and assistant try to corral them for a performance on live television. Though really, the stuff the boys get up to is all fairly innocuous. Sure, they’re smug little twerps at times and full of the sort of in jokes and snappy humor that plays well against uptight management types, but they’re harmless. They poke fun at each other, tease the people around them, play pranks that ultimately do no harm, and generally goof off but end up doing their jobs when needed. Or they intend to. Except then there’s Paul’s grandfather. Not the one he lives with. The other one. He’s a very clean old man. He’s also a total troublemaker, and not in the innocent-ish way of the bandmates.

So Mr. McCartney gets the band into more scrapes than usual, running off to gambling clubs and inciting Ringo to mutiny and ending up arrested. And through all the trouble and running around and cheeky banter there are plenty of songs, which I found myself singing along with most of the time. They’re all familiar, like old friends. And what’s fun is that while I’m sure the teens who came to my library program today would laugh if they saw this, the music would still be familiar to them. Like it or not, the Beatles have staying power. They were at the forefront of this whole pop star movie thing. So I guess they retroactively earned their cocky attitudes. It’s all in good fun, after all.

October 12, 2010 - Posted by | daily reviews | , , , , ,


  1. You can be forgiven for not seeing how revolutionary this film looked in 1964. Richard Lester was on a tear, creating one incredible visual experience after another. Yes, the Beatles were cute, but the surreality of the film was the real kick. The Beatles running along beside the train yelling “Hey Mister! Give us our ball back!” Something new even in those turbulent times. Then he went on to make the gritty, great Petulia.

    Comment by Doc Wheat | October 15, 2010 | Reply

    • Andy and I did talk about that bit, and the part where John disappears out of the bathtub, and whether that qualified the movie as magical realism. Personally, I’d go with that over surrealism, but then my introduction to cinematic surrealism was Un Chien Andalou, which is so very different.

      Comment by ajmovies | October 15, 2010 | Reply

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