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If you read the first review, you know that, this week, I am taking a look at great rock and roll movies. One of the funniest is The Rutles.
In 1978, Eric Idle, one of the key members of Monty Python and a frequent contributor to early Saturday Night Live episodes, teamed with comedic songwriter Neil Innes to create a stunning parody of The Beatles. Originally conceived of as a 1 ½ mockumentary that could fill in during a week off for Saturday Night Live, the film was so good that NBC decided to air it in prime time. The film follows the rise and fall of a group of four lads from England who create a bridge between the early stages of rock and roll and the psychedelic, harder, revolutionary sound of the sixties.
Dirk (Eric Idle), Nasty (Neil Innis), Stig (Rikki Fatar) and Barry (John Halsey) start small by playing the clubs around England, and soon graduate to touring Europe. After hitting it big in Europe, they decide to go to the United States, where all the big acts stake their claim to rock and roll dominance. After their premiere on The Ed Sullivan Show, America is swept up in Rutlemania.
Can these four lads from England live up to the hype? Can they stay together?
NO! If you know anything about The Beatles, you know how the story is going to end, but it's the ride that provides all the fun. Idle creates an amazing duplicate of every major event in Beatle history, from the days of touring Hamburg to the Ed Sullivan appearance to their hit movies (re-titled Ouch! And The Tragical History Tour). Songwriter Neil Innis brilliantly parodies all the necessary Beatles tunes and even recreates the Beatle sound. The only problem the movie faces is a few sub-standard cameo appearances.
While the additions of Mick Jagger and Geogre Harrison are perfect, John Belushi and Dan Ackroyd play characters I couldn't identify from Beatles history. I must assume they do not represent anyone, which is shame considering Idle went through so much trouble to get every other detail right. Once again, I assume producer Lorne Michaels wanted to incorporate some of his "Not-Ready-For-Prime-Time" players to help boost the audience.
If you like good, English humor or just love the Beatles, check out The Rutles.
Directed by Gary Weiss and Eric Idle
Written by Eric Idle
Produced by Lorne Michaels
Eric Idle . Dirk and Narrator
Neil Innis Ron Nasty
Rikki Fatar . Stig
John Halsey Barry
Michael Palin .. Eric Manchester
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