review for Give My Regards to Broad Street on AllMovie

Give My Regards to Broad Street (1984)
by Dan Friedman review

In his post-Beatles years, Paul McCartney has on occasion elicited cries from his loyal fans along the lines of "What were you thinking?" Give My Regards to Broad Street was one such instance, although in retrospect, it stands up slightly better than it once did. Just from reviewing the cast list, one should be impressed. Tracey Ullman, Bryan Brown, and Sir Ralph Richardson are all featured, as is some guy named Ringo. You have to try pretty hard to make talent like that uninteresting. Also, one would think that simply being one of the most famous men on the planet is not enough by itself to carry the movie. Having written the screenplay as well as starring, McCartney could certainly be accused of possessing an out-of-control ego. However, there are more redeemable qualities in this film than most might think. To wit, the man's personal aura simply cannot be overcome by such trivial matters as plot and character. Flimsy as they are, what stands out most is, naturally, the music. In what is still unheard of today, all of it was performed live for the camera. Not only is this expensive and probably what ate into the budget for the previously mentioned plot and character, but it's also very, very hard to do. And yet, aside from some reasonably strong new material, the film presented classic Beatle songs either recorded with new arrangements or "performed" for the first time anywhere. The music sequences, which really amount to nothing more than a strung-together collection of fancy music videos, are done exceedingly well. It's when the film tries to turn into a more modern version of A Hard Day's Night or Help! that it breaks down. It's ultimately unsatisfying, unless you read a book when there's no music emanating from the screen.