Between Evan Rachel Wood’s manly alto and Jim Sturgess breaking out into "I’ve Just Seen a Face" in a bowling alley, I’m confident that Across the Universe has the potential to be the career-killing feat of creative hubris it’s been rumored to be since last March. And now that Julie Taymor’s struck out with (ostensibly) human stories three times in a row, maybe she’ll finally get back to where she once belonged: on the stage… with puppets.
To be fair, I doubt Across the Universe is as crassly pitched to teenage girls as these two clips hosted by MTV suggest, though who knows what a middlebrow jackass like Joe Roth has done to Taymor’s vision (right now, I’m getting a strong Rags to Riches vibe – especially from the Wood number). That said, I still can’t see why this movie got greenlit. A pastiche history of the 60s and 70s scored to The Beatles sounds like the kind of thing that would infuriate those who lived through the period and bewilder those who came after. So far, so garish. This shit makes Hair look like Midnight Cowboy.
I admire the attempt to rekindle our youthful idealism, but it’s going to take more than poorly covered Beatles songs – and these are rotten renditions – to get us feeling like twenty-year-olds again (actually, this is something Sean Penn’s exceptional Into the Wild accomplishes to soul stirring effect). Across the Universe is set to detonate on September 21st. Enjoy the fireworks.