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Warner Home Video presents
"The Rutles' music will be remembered long after Mozart's paintings or Beethoven's after-dinner speeches have been forgotten."
DVD ReviewIt was the springtime of 1978. While most 14-year-old boys were chasing girls, playing sports or oogling their Farrah Fawcett-Majors poster, I was basking in the afterglow of a major pop culture discovery that altered my life, at least for a lunchtime.
I'm referring to the absolutely brilliant 1978 television movie entitled All You Need Is Cash (which has come to be known simply as The Rutles). Produced by Saturday Night Live's Lorne Michaels and wonderfully co-directed/scripted by Monty Python member Eric Idle, it re-imagined the legacy of The Beatles through skewering eyes. But like many card-carrying fans such as myself who positively adore John, Paul, George, and Ringo, what made this 74-minute film so beloved is that while it poked fun at everything the group touched from their freewheeling cinematic efforts (Help! becomes Ouch!) to ill-fated business dealings (Apple becomes Banana), it did so gently without malice nor harm. Combined with spot-on musical parodies by former Bonzo Dog Band member Neil Innes, which could have easily been mistaken for bona fide Beatle outtakes (one such number, Cheese and Onions, actually made the cut of a late-1970s bootleg album produced by one dimwitted compiler), and superb cameos from the likes of Mick Jagger, Paul Simon, Bill Murray, Gilda Radner, and John Belushi (the latter unforgettable as Ron Decline, "the most feared promoter in the world"), it set a very high standard for similar films (This is Spinal Tap, for example) to follow, despite the fact that its original NBC broadcast was one of the lowest rated shows of the week.
Although it comes a few years too late to ride the high profile coattails of the Beatles' Anthology and 1, The Rutles 2: Can't Buy Me Lunch is sure to raise a smile for those who recall that other Fab Four with fondness. A sequel in name only, this 2005 follow-up has fun with the Liverpudlian legends from a retrospective slant with big name Hollywood stars (Steve Martin, Tom Hanks), musical peers (Graham Nash, David Bowie, Jewel, and James Taylor), and others close to the Rutles phenomenon host Melvin Hall (Idle) failed to track down last time out, including Astro Glide (Catherine O'Hara), the notorious German girl who inspired their keen fashion sense, and Troy Nixon (Jim Piddock), who worked closely with their legendary manager, Leggy Mountbatten—perhaps a little too closely. For those who might feel a bit let down by the lack of heretofore undiscovered footage of Dirk, Stig, Nasty, and Barry, there's a little something special to get your chin back up. Those who have encyclopedic recall of the 1978 original will notice much in the way of outtake footage set to many of the most memorable tunes that graced the original, looking positively smashing to the point that I wonder if a top-to-bottom re-mastering of All You Need Is Cash just might be a possibility.
Some may dismiss Lunch as nothing more than a quick cash-in with no artistic merit, and to those detractors I say, sod off! But what it all comes down to is that The Rutles 2 is a film designed with both the Rutles (and Beatles) camps in mind, "and you know, that can't be bad."
Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B
Image Transfer Review: Such is the case with real documentaries, image quality is all over the map at times, but save for a few instances where exterior locales are a little overly bright, it's a mostly consistent, pleasing transfer (and again, I must admit that the outtake footage culled from the 1978 shoot looks very impressive).
Image Transfer Grade: B+
Audio Transfer Review: Though I would have loved to have heard Neil Innes' fantastically inspired knocks-offs in Dolby Digital 5.1, this 2.0 mix is kind to the late 1970s recordings with vintage style separation that mimics George Martin's production techniques (of the original Beatles recordings) to a T.
Audio Transfer Grade: B+
Disc ExtrasStatic menu with music
Scene Access with 16 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French with remote access
Packaging: Keep Case
Speaking of which, extras include nearly a half-hour of outtakes from most of Idle's special guest stars, much of it bitingly funny including David Bowie's recollection of a planned "bag-in" with Ron Nasty that didn't pan out; Bonnie Raitt barely suppressing giggles as she recalls having the hots for Stig (a true tongue-in-cheek moment since longtime touring drummer Ricky Fataar played the role); and Tom Hanks emotionally reliving the day he heard his favorite band had called it quits. Melvin Hall groupies will delight at the inclusion of numerous recovered outtakes, some of which explain the importance of microphone windscreens—and of not forgetting your microphone. Rounding out the bonus material is an alternate ending that features the nicely edited montage of Rutles footage also used in the final cut, but without the credits (accompanied by Innes' touching and Lennon-esque Back in '64, from the undervalued 1997 Rutles reunion album, Archeology).
There is also a hidden piece of video for those of you hunting for something further "the trousers".
Extras Grade: B
Final CommentsPaul McCartney once said to those clamoring for a Beatles reunion, "You can't reheat a soufflé." Judging from the lack of fresh footage with its seemingly reclusive alumni, perhaps The Rutles are taking heed of the cute one's advice, too. But that shouldn't stop the rest of us from continuing to celebrate both band's legacies in Can't Buy Me Lunch. Recommended.
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