Film Review: ‘Yesterday’ is just a memory – until it isn’t

            Joshua joined Twitter in May 2009. The Twitter user whose handle is @OVOJosh and identifies as an “unsuccessful dieter” had this to say on Jan. 1, 2015: “I don’t know who Paul McCartney is, but Kanye is going to give this man a career w/ this new song.”

            Twitter pretty much shut down in response. It was as if McCartney’s own children went to a Guns N Roses concert and came home afterwards, raving to their dad about Axl Rose’s performance of “Live and Let Die.”

            Wait for it …

            While you’re waiting, don’t forget to think about Yesterday. You’re actually thinking about Yesterday, to borrow from P.M. Dawn’s poetic words of “Paper Doll.” Now you’re likely asking, “who are they?” It’s as if you already watched Yesterday.

            Stay with me here.

            A man comes out of a coma and, when he’s finally released from the hospital, attends a welcome back party hosted by a few of his closest friends. The man, who was run over by a bus during a random international blackout, happens to be a talented singer and guitarist. One of his friends, grateful he is not dead (wink wink) gifted him a new guitar. She and the other friends ask the musician to sing them a song – and he obliges, with “Yesterday.”

            His friends, baffled, asked him where that came from – and he replies, “The Beatles.”

            “Who are they?” his friends ask.

            The man thinks it’s all a sick joke. But remember, here I am speaking of P.M. Dawn in the same breath as The Beatles and Mr. OVO Joshua, apparently a disciple of Drake, had no idea Paul McCartney was a member of one of the world’s most famous bands before crossing paths with Yeezy, err Mr. Kim K., err Ye, err Kanye.

            Are you having fun yet, reading this attempt at a film review? Because, if so, you’ll certainly have fun watching Yesterday, the new Danny Boyle film starring Himesh Patel, Lily James, Ed Sheeran, Kate McKinnon and Joel Fry.

Yesterday   opens on June 28. The film is directed by Danny Boyle and stars Himesh Patel.

Yesterday opens on June 28. The film is directed by Danny Boyle and stars Himesh Patel.

            Patel is Jack Malik, a guitarist who can’t get anyone but his four friends to watch him perform live. He also has a dead end, part-time job as a stocker at a business-to-customer warehouse store. Ellie (James) is his manager, driver and best friend. She’s constantly pushing Jack to pursue his craft, even thinks some of the songs he performs is about her. One day Jack finally had enough of Ellie’s encouragement and demands he let him out of her car. He hops on his bicycle – his only personal mode of transportation – and navigates his way home. Jack reaches an intersection and suddenly there is a blackout. He enters the intersection, is hit by a bus and later wakes up in a hospital – his favorite beard shaved off and a few front teeth missing.

            When he later realizes his friends weren’t joking about not knowing who The Beatles are, Jack decides to take it upon himself to perform the group’s music – and sell it off as is own.

            The stakes are raised when Ed Sheeran – yes, that Ed Sheeran – pulls off a “Kanye” and “discovers” Jack. The Beatles imposter is suddenly swept up and riding high as Hollywood’s newest – and biggest – star, but not before he (and the audience) experiences a few cringe-worthy moments.

            “Hey Jude” becomes “Hey Dude.”

            “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” and “Abbey Road” are brushed off as mediocre titles, at best.

            And no one, absolutely no one, knows who The Beatles are – it’s as if Joshua’s tweet from Jan. 1, 2015 was taken to the extreme. Live and let die, perhaps?

            Are you still with me?

            Jack constantly lives in fear of being revealed as a fraud – and me, as audience member, kept wondering when we’ll realize this was all a dream – not the type you read about in WordUp! Magazine, but instead an alternate universe playing out in Jack’s head while he was in a coma.

            Yesterday is ultimately a fun, nostalgic and heart-warming film, if not also cheesy and sappy. Jokes are aplenty throughout Boyle’s latest endeavor, so you’ll have no shortage of laughter or comedic moments – that is, of course, because you probably believe there is no way Joshua’s tweet would ever play out the way it was in Yesterday.

            Patel is believable and easy to root for as Jack. We feel his pain of perhaps being the last man on Earth to know about The Beatles – it’s almost as he has the responsibility to take credit for their songs, taking the credit as a musical genius, if only to be sure the words and sounds of Paul, John, Ringo and George is shared with a world who lives devoid of their former existence.

            Oh, Patel, from certain angles, sometimes resembles Kunal Nayyar.

            James, in her rendition of Ellie, is the perfect girl next door – you literally spend the entire film hoping she ends up with the man of her dreams (Jack, duh!). Fry adds quite a bit of comic relief as the bumbling, mumbling and stumbling friend and manager of the superstar iteration of Jack. Sheeran is solid playing himself. Everyone’s respective performances has cheesy moments – McKinnon, for example, has her moments of being the over-the-top Hollywood manager who only cares about money and barks out degrading orders as she does yoga on the balcony of her beachfront mansion.

            Yesterday is predictable and at times oddly paced but doesn’t take itself seriously. Boyle doesn’t hold back at making fun of some of Hollywood’s outlandish ways and disconnect from reality. Throughout the film Boyle persist with this reminder: no matter where you go in life, don’t ever forget your roots, don’t ever be anyone other than who you are and never leave behind the people who are always in your corner.

            Danny Boyle’s Yesterday is a Universal release and opens on June 28.