After Hair and the mass marketing of tie-dye, can the Sixties be shrunk to fit any further? Yes, indeed, here comes that nervous popularizer Julie Taymor, incongruously partnered with the happily vulgarian British writing duo of Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais, to run this transgressively utopian moment through the PG-13 musical sieve. Filtering the transatlantic cultural revolt through a love affair between a Liverpool shipyard worker (Jim Sturgess) and a wealthy American co-ed (Evan Rachel Wood), Across the Universe reads the times via a blizzard of early Beatles songs. You say you want a sexual revolution? Well, I wanna hold your lesbian hand. Student revolt, anyone? They get by with a little help from their friends. Vietnam? Uncle Sam leaps out of his recruitment poster to spit out a few bars of "I Want You." Times of trouble? Let it be — and so on and on, as Jude and Lucy, guided by expository Taymor-ish spectacles, climb dutifully up the peak of infinite possibility, only to march grimly down the hill of disillusion and despair. The movie briefly comes alive in duets between a Janis Joplin clone (the excellent Dana Fuchs) and a Jimi Hendrix type played by musician Martin Luther McCoy, before collapsing into a bushy-tailed finale. Hey, Jude, all you need is love. Not.
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