Have you ever imagined being the lead singer of a certain band? Have you ever wondered if you could choose the career path of a particular band or singer, which one would you choose and why? Not only that, but have you ever wondered if a particular band from the 1950s or 1960s didn't exist, and you wrote their songs, would they still carry the same popularity today? Many people have theorized if The Beatles formed today instead of back then if they'd really be as big today as they were back then. Simply because music is so different today, although can any song of today beat the lyrical meaning of The Beatles?
That is precisely the game being played in "Yesterday." Himesh Patel is an actor I am unfamiliar with, but he plays Jack in this movie. Jack is an aspiring singer who just can't get his foot in the door. He can barely get his foot in any type of door and he feels like abandoning his passion for music completely. One night, driving home from work, he gets hurt during a power outage. After recovering, he slowly begins to realize that nobody around him recognizes any Beatles songs. Not any obscure Beatles work either. Nobody recognizes "Yesterday," or "She Loves You" or their biggest of big hits. He Googles it and finds out that somehow after the outage, The Beatles simply disappeared from existence.
Sounds like a goofy premise in order to celebrate one of the best rock'n'roll bands in history? Oh yes, that's entirely true. For the first hour or so, the movie is a celebration of the music and the work done by The Beatles. Jack uses the Beatles music to get into the music scene and he quickly becomes popular. Gets noticed by a record label. Swoons people left and right. He even beats Ed Sheerin in a song writing and performance contest (Sheerin plays himself in this). For the first half of the film, it does feel like a silly yet sincere way to celebrate the music of the Beatles.
For the second half of the movie, it suddenly becomes an episode of Sesame Street. The movie takes a left turn into moral fable with outcomes so pedestrian you'll think the movie was made for children. Jack is close friends to a girl Ellie (Lily James). Does he want to be more than friends? Will his newfound fame interfere with that relationship? Will Jack admit to plagiarism to choose Ellie even though The Beatles no longer exist and he doesn't really have to? These are all outcomes that come a mile away. The movie makes no effort, to venture into new avenues and never tries to make anything new or exciting. It just kind of happens and ends.
Kate McKinnon shows up as a record label producer, the kind that doesn't have the best intentions for Jack. If she were a dude, she'd definitely have a mustache to twirl. She has some good funny material here and they make use of McKinnon's comedic timing well. I think Patel is good actor and does exactly what is needed to sell the strange idea at the heart of the movie. I don't know if he does the singing in the movie or not, but I think Beatles fans will enjoy the renditions of the old Beatles tunes. They are very well done and if Patel sings then he is a remarkable performer.
Is this a movie Beatles fans will like, yeah probably. Is this a movie that I think celebrates the Beatles? Ehh, I'd say that's 50/50. I think the movie would have been stronger overall had it remained to its convictions. But I guess movies like this have to have some kind of story for people to maybe enjoy. I did like the music and I did like the performances, but I think "Yesterday" ends up being a little too fluffy.
FINAL GRADE: B-