Across the Universe
PG-13
Entertainment: +2
Acceptability: -2

Evan Rachel Wood, Jim Sturgess, Joe Anderson. Musical. Written by Dick Clement & Ian La Frenais. Directed by Julie Taymor.

FILM SYNOPSIS: A whimsical musical/love story set against the backdrop of the turbulent anti-war protests of the 1960s, the film moves from the dockyards of Liverpool to the creative psychedelia of Greenwich Village, from the riot-torn streets of Detroit to the killing fields of Vietnam. The star-crossed lovers, Jude (Jim Sturgess) and Lucy (Evan Rachel Wood), along with a small group of friends and musicians, are swept up into the emerging anti-war and counterculture movements, with Dr. Robert (Bono) and Mr. Kite (Eddie Izzard) as their guides. Tumultuous forces outside their control ultimately tear the young lovers apart, forcing Jude and Lucy against all odds to find their own way back to each other.

PREVIEW REVIEW: Its a psychedelic salute to the hippy-dippy, turn-on, tune-out 60s generation whose Mecca was Haight-Ashbury and mantra was Hell no, we wont go. Driven by the Beatles songbook (it seems like the actors sing every song the Fab Four ever conceived), the film has a stylish look and sincere performances, but director Julie Taymor (Frida, Titus, and the Broadway smash hit musical The Lion King) and writers Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais (The Commitments) glorify the cartoonish behavior of that time with little regard for its disastrous naivet.

But I wont write-off the filmmakers ability. They have a point of view and express it with earnestness. In the press notes, director Taymor says, You constantly have to revisit these stories in order to reflect upon your present and really think, What is it thats different now? That era is explicitly important to our time now.

True. If we ignore the past, we are doomed to relive it. But comparing the battling in Viet Nam with our situation in Iraq may be misguided. As usual filmmakers only present one perspective, a dangerous prerogative when dealing with world issues. Sometimes evil must be faced and fought, not placated. And having lived through that time, Im just not sure all the radical discourse of that era was truthfully done with pure motives. The revolution wasnt just against mans authority, but Gods, as well.

It was a troubling age as the youth of America found little satisfaction in the complicity of its elders and sought profundity anywhere but at the feet of their folks. Added to a dawning awareness of unequal rights and the disillusionment with political authority, the 1960s were dominated by an unpopular war. Alas, whatever righteousness the youth movement found in fighting injustice became sickened by a cancerous rebellion for rebellions sake. Ultimately, the peace/love generation proved to be no more enlightened than any other. All the revolt against the system and all the self-exploration imaginable are eventually found to be disillusioning when Christ-awareness is denied. And the comparison these filmmakers attempt with todays social dissatisfaction is colored by rose-tinted granny glasses, like those once worn by the Honky Tonk Women of whom many a young man said, She blew my nose and then she blew my mind. Oh, sorry, thats the Stones, not the Beatles.

Long (2 hrs 14 min.), excessive (too many musical numbers that bemoan the status quo), dreary (lots of distress due to the war-is-hell theme and countless unsettled relationships), and I suspect its only metaphorical if youre stoned. And I dont recommend that.

Preview Reviewer: Phil Boatwright
Distributor: Sony Pictures

Summary
Crude Language: Several crude sexual conversations.
Obscene Language: Around 10 obscenities with a handful of minor expletives (damns, hells).
Profanity: Four misuses of Gods or Christs names.
Violence: A fight breaks out between two men at a protest headquarters; we see a man killed in battle and learn of the death of others; a hospital scene has several wounded men scared physical or mentally by the war; several depictions of protest rallies that turn violent. Blood: Some blood as people are injured at protest rallies.
Sexual Intercourse: A few sexual situations, basically there to depict the free love and repressed love attitudes of the time; a high school cheerleader relays her love for another girl in song; we see a lesbian situation.
Nudity: Several nude scenes.
Homosexual Conduct: A depressed lesbian cant find love.
Sexually Suggestive Action/Dialog: None
Drug Abuse: Smoking, drinking and drugs are featured throughout.
Other: A subtle put-down of religion.
Running Time: 134 minutes
Intended Audience: Older Teens and Adults

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