A Ron Howard movie? I'm usually in.
A documentary? I'm likely to be in.
Something about the Beatles? Duh.
All three of these elements come together in a phenomenal new movie that focuses on the Beatles' rise in the Sixties. Try not to smile as you watch the first two-thirds of this film. Hell, that's not a smile. It's a grin. Realitically, this is a documentary that covers only about ten years of time. But, oh, what a decade!
Ron Howard, who was almost ten years old when the Beatles first appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show on February 9, 1964, is obviously a fan and his love for the group comes out with this work. He weaves current interviews with the surviving Paul and Ringo into a tapestry of rare footage of early TV appearances and concerts...some of it provided by other Beatle fans. The end result is a thoroughly marvelous time at the movies.
Do you learn anything new? Not really. Any revelations about the Beatles have already come out. But Ron tells the often-told story one more time and it's mesmerizing. Theater audiences sing and clap along to the tunes as they play out on the big screen.
Of course, anything about the Beatles must go through the years 1967-69, where the group got progressively more drug-obsessed and frankly tired and bored with their success. This renders the final third of the movie sad and deflating. Proof positive that something good doesn't necessarily last forever.
This is one of those movies where you also get the DVD extras long before the Blu Ray comes out. After the documentary, you are treated to an edited version of the famous Shea Stadium concert of August 19, 1965. It's a glorious time capsule as you get to hear the music, witness the mania of fainting teenage girls, and, for me, see my beloved Shea Stadium alive one more time.
This documentary was produced in part by Hulu, but it was released to very select theaters for a week or so. I don't have Hulu, so I paid my money at the box office. However, you can see this film, go for it. You will not be disappointed.
LEN'S RATING: Four stars.
Dinner last night: Leftover knockwurst and red cabbage.