The “what-ifs” star in the film “Yesterday”. What if the Beatles, Coke-a-Cola, and cigarettes and Harry Potter never existed ? With this premise Director Danny Boyle takes off on a romantic and somewhat silly paean to the music and the lyrics of The Beatles.
We begin with an other-worldly three-second blackout that erases the above cultural items. Himesh Patel takes over as Jack Malik and co-opts the Beatles’ songs. Fame and guilt sideline his romance with Ellie, the Cinderella-like Lily James.
Internet searches for “Sergeant Pepper” render “ sweet peppers” and “Hey, Jude” is changed to “ Hey, Dude”. When “Beatles” is typed into the search box, Google sends images of insects. John Lennon gives Jack advice over tea: “ all you need is love”, and sends him back to keep Ellie from slipping away. Writer Richard Curtis of “Notting Hill” (1999) fame serves up a slow brewing romance, and it gets tedious seeing Jack holding Ellie at bay.
Kate McKinnon plays the role of ruthless agent and the ending serves up energy and sweetness. The balance is held together by song lyrics “ with a little help from my friends” , “let it be”, “here comes the sun”, and “ all the lovely people, where do they all come from” used in all the appropriate places. “Help me if you can” and “ the yellow submarine” strike there chords, too. I would have liked to have seen more of Ed Sheeran and more lines like McKinnon’s “ in the name of money, stop”, but “Yesterday’ is good summer fare.