Yesterday, rated PG-13
Yesterday is an entertaining summer romantic comedy, but it does include some content issues. The film is directed by Oscar winner Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire) and the screenplay is written by Oscar nominee Richard Curtis (Four Weddings and Funeral, Love Actually).
Jack, played by British actor Himesh Patel in his feature film debut, a former teacher, is a struggling musician when he’s not stocking shelves in a retail store. He usually plays to very small audiences, and has just played his last concert, a disaster, in Suffolk, and is ready to give up on his career short of a miracle. His manager when she’s not a high school teacher, longtime friend, roadie, and only fan is Ellie, played by Lily James (Downton Abbey, Cinderella, Mama Mia! Here We Go Again), tells him that miracles can happen.
On his way home that night, there is a 12 second worldwide blackout. During the global blackout, Jack on his bike is hit by a bus. He is injured and wakes up in the hospital, with his face bruised and cut and his two front teeth missing. Ellie tells him that the accident is a message from God.
When Jack plays the Beatles song “Yesterday” to Ellie and a few of their friends after he gets out of the hospital, they have never heard it before, and are amazed that Jack wrote it. Jack insists that it was written by the Beatles. Jack soon realizes that since the blackout nobody has any recollection of the Beatles (or Coke, Harry Potter or cigarettes for that matter). We see him search the internet and find no reference to the band, or John, Paul, George or Ringo. He decides to take advantage of this, and he fills his bedroom walls with Post-It notes of every Beatles song that he can remember, and frantically tries to remember as many lyrics as possible. Then, he begins to play the Beatles’ songs, taking credit for writing them.
Singer/songwriter Ed Sheeran playing himself, shows up at Jack’s parent’s home, where Jack lives, after seeing Jack play “In My Life” on television. Sheeran gives Jack an incredible opportunity as the opening act on his world tour. When Ellie can’t accompany him because of her teaching responsibilities, the unreliable Rocky, played by Joel Fry, joins him. One evening on tour, we see Sheeran challenge Jack to a contest on who can write the best song in 10 minutes, with Jack winning when he “writes” “The Long and Winding Road”. Sheeran’s ruthless and rude manager Debra, played by two-time Emmy winner Kate McKinnon (Saturday Night Live), quickly sees the financial success Jack can bring her and has him come to Los Angeles to record an album.
Jack’s popularity begins to sky rocket, but he has guilt about saying he has written the songs, and fears that he will be found out, even having dreams about it. Will his secret be found out? And what about his relationship with Ellie, now that Kate takes over as Jack’s manager?
Content concerns include some adult language, including several abuses of God’s and Jesus’ names, in addition to an implied sex scene. Themes include friendship, deception, guilt, fear and doing the right thing.
Patel and James are good in their roles as Jack and Ellie, and have nice chemistry onscreen. Patel does a good job singing the Beatles songs as a solo artist. The film includes a good deal of humor, much of it coming from Fry.
Yesterday is an entertaining, well-acted romantic comedy, that has some good messages, but also some unnecessary adult language and abuses of God’s and Jesus’ name.