As I sit staring at the movie poster, I find myself desperately wishing the plot of Across the Universe was literally about a young couple trapped inside of an inter-planetary strawberry in the vacuum of space. But alas, the movie I watched - both grueling times - isn't about space berries at all. It's about love. Which - if you're over the age of twenty-five - means it's about absolutely fucking nothing.
Set in the 1960s, this film clobbers you with every single thing that ever happened during that decade. You would think that the story actually spans the entire decade, but no - it just strawberry-picks the quintessence of the 60s to serve you up a nostaljuice you've definitely already had before if you've ever watched The Wonder Years.
But hey, it's set to a soundtrack of Beatles songs and that's great, right? I love The Beatles! According to my research, there are at least thirty Beatles songs in this movie. Seriously think about that number for a moment. Think about putting thirty great things into yourself - like thirty donut holes, for example. They don't cease being great just because they are inside of you - but did you become thirty donut holes greater? No. You're still a moron and now you disgust me.
Let's get down to business anyway.
Lucy (Evan Rachel Wood) is an idealistic, pretty young woman with a boyfriend who's just entered the military. I didn't bother telling you his name, as he is killed almost immediately. Vietnam sucked, who knew?
Jude (Jim Sturgess) is a young, artistic man who left Liverpool to find his real father in the States. Once he gets to Princeton, he learns that his father is not a professor as he'd assumed, but a lowly janitor. Good thing that random student Jude bumped into just happened to keep track of the names of the maintenance staff. Unfortunately, dear old dad's not warming up to the idea of giving him the room over the garage, so Jude just finds a place to stay on campus, like you know, under a building or whatever. It's the 60s - you can just live at Princeton University without being a student and as long as your hot plate doesn't start a fire nobody'll fuss.
Through circumstances I couldn't be paid to recall, Jude meets Max (Joe Anderson), a student at the University - who just so happens to be Lucy's brother - and they become fast friends, mucking around campus, smoking invisible joints and just generally engaging in the type of skylarking that only happens in college. But what's this? Max has decided that the cushy Ivy League life is not for him and he'd much rather grow two feet of pork.
Wait, that can't be right. He probably wants to go see New York. It's so easy to let your mind wander when you can't give a shit about what's happening.
So, Max and Jude go to New York City and move into a massive apartment with crazy lady Sadie (Dana Fuchs), some other people and a cat. It doesn't take long before Jo-Jo (Martin Luther) shows up, because we gotta have a Jimi Hendrix type, or it's just not the 60s ... and of course, Lucy comes tumbling after.
It's at this point that I start praying for someone to garrote me, because this movie is well over two hours long, just getting started, and when you've got the whole Beatles catalog to choose from, just try getting getting out your front door without bursting into a god damned song. Hell, if you're Prudence (T.V. Carpio) you can just lock yourself in a closet and have everyone else serenade you with your own name.
One thing that can be said for this film is that the songs are sung quite well - even if they are deliberately and unnaturally forced into the plot. Imagine, if you would, a beautiful white dove humping your hand. Certainly you'd appreciate how lovely the bird is, but you would still also remember that it just raped your hand and think, "Not cool, dude."