The Hunt For The Worst Movie Of All Time: Across The Universe

I have never walked out of a movie.

This fact has as much to do with my selectivity in choosing what I’m willing to spend actual money on as it does my willingness to sit through bad movies, but it should be noted that my willingness to sit through bad movies can be described as VERY WILLING. But this week’s nominee, Across the Universe, represents a first in The Hunt. Unlike Kangaroo Jack, or Powder, or Battlefield Earth, bad as they were, had I seen this movie in the theater, I would not have seen this movie in the theater, if you know what I am saying. What I am saying is that I would have walked out of the theater. I just want to make sure there isn’t any confusion. INNUENDOS ARE HARD! (That’s what she said?)

Across the Universe is a musical set in the late 60s about a guy named Jude (UGH) who travels to the United States to find his father. There, he makes friends with a guy named Max and they move to New York where they rent rooms in an apartment from a woman named Sadie. Jude falls in love with Max’s sister LUCY (UGH). He has another roommate named Prudence (UGH). Then Max gets sent to Vietnam and Jude and Lucy break up because Lucy is spending too much time with the student radicals. Jude gets deported but then Jude comes back, because of how deported people are always allowed to just come back if they love someone so much, and he gets back together with Lucy by singing from a rooftop with the police’s permission. You know, because of The Beatles.

Perhaps the most glaring problem with this movie is that it’s supposed to be a celebration of and tribute to The Beatles, but has absolutely nothing to do with them. The plot is cobbled together by playing Mad Libs with the Wikipedia song list, and like Mad Libs is just as nonsensical.

Get it? FRIENDS? It only gets worse as the movie goes on, so that by the time they shoehorn in “Strawberry Fields Forever,” Jude is LITERALLY JUST PAINTING STRAWBERRIES, AS A PLOT POINT.

And all of the songs are sung by the actors, which is about as far from a celebration of someone’s music as you can get. Maybe I’m alone on this, but I’m of the opinion that you do not honor someone’s musical legacy by putting it in the hands (and mouth) of Evan Rachel Wood. John Lennon’s ashes are shifting in their urn.

To be fair, at a certain point you just accept the movie on its own terms and stop screaming at the screen. But then what are you left with? The thing about musicals is that they’re already threadbare in the logical narrative department even when they’re not cobbled together hackneyed jokes that some dude came up with over a dime bag of ragweed and a crate of records. It is absolutely impossible to be invested in or care about any of these characters because their interactions are all pun-based plays on song titles. At a certain point you just want them to “Love Love Me Do.” (Just kidding, you want them to “Drop Dead.”)

The whole thing reminds me of the Douglas Coupland book Girl in a Coma, in which he would begin sentences with shit like “Hand in glove, she steered the car through the snow.” Yikes. That’s pretty bad, but now imagine it at 24 yikes per second. With Evan Rachel Wood singing.

Because of this movie, and in an effort to preserve my optimistic nature (I see the Gigli as half-full. Huh?) I am creating a new rule: No More Musicals. And let’s just agree that this is the Worst Musical of All Time because of how it is.

Next week: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. As always, please leave your suggestions in the comments or in an email. And if you haven’t done so already, please consult the Official Rules.