It is easy to hate on The Beatles. All the cool kids have been doing it since they broke up in 1970, whether it is out of hatred for all things positive or sheer jealousy.

As evidenced by the extreme reactions they have inspired over the years, there is no denying that they are the biggest and most influential rock and roll band of all time.

With the scale of their notoriety in mind, most reactions to the band are based not on the music itself, but on the people who listen to the music. I will break them into three types.

You got your obscure fan that digs their rarities and early stuff with a fondness for the band’s democratic style and convergence of genres. These fans are the most rational.

You got your ironic fan that knowingly indulges in the band’s pop aesthetics, jamming along simply because they like the music and nothing else. Their fans are kind of silly, but at least they are aware of it.

And then you got your peace-loving hippy fan that will not shut up about the “Love” and “Peace” they sing about in their songs, all the while missing the fact that life is not all sunshine and lollipops. Julie Taymor’s musical, “Across the Universe,” is that hippy, and I want to light its Birkenstocks on fire.

Made up of predictable vignettes stretched over the course of two hours and 11 minutes, “Across the Universe” uses a plethora of predictable Beatles songs to tell the story of six predictable characters. Did I mention it is predictable?

We mostly follow Jude, played by Jim Sturgess, and Lucy, played by Evan Rachel Wood (Get it? Like the songs?), as they travel from Princeton to New York City to “find themselves” and each other in the turbulent `60s. Revolution and peace and crazy acid trips ensue. Eddie Izzard even shows up to sing a song as a creep named Mr. Kite. Now that’s trippy.

On the bright side, the visuals – when not entirely heavy-handed – are actually pretty cool, and Bono steals the show as a blatant Ken Kesey rip-off named Dr. Robert.

In the film’s most inspired yet contrived sequence, Dr. Robert sings “I Am the Walrus” and then urges his followers to “get on the bus” as they make a spiritual journey to the home of a certain activist named Dr. Geary (they could have at least tried to be less obvious).

I’m assuming that Timothy Leary and Ken Kesey’s estates were smart enough not to tarnish their respective names by refusing to sign off on this film. Thank God.

If being “trippy” and “radical” is what the makers of this film wanted, then they succeeded with flying Day-Glo colors. Then again, any average Joe can use canted camera angles, colorful filters and a couple editing tricks to create the illusion of psychedelic realism. This film is clearly unafraid of resorting to this sort of artistic mediocrity.

Bounded by clichs from the very beginning, “Across the Universe” attempts to wrap the `60s up into one convenient little package to the tune of a run of the mill Beatles’ greatest hits compilation.

It may hit on all the right topics, but it does so with such an utter lack of imagination and honesty that it should make even the most devoted Beatles fans slightly nauseated.

Milbrand is a member of the class of 2008.



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