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MOVIE REVIEW: Nowhere Boy

The story of a teenaged John Lennon, and his two mothers

Nowhere Boy: Rates a C-.
Courtesy photo

I wrote a few lyrics, sung to the tune of Nowhere Man:

He’s a real nowhere boy/a harmonica is his only toy

Making plans for a guitar, someday.

Doesn’t have a mum, but two

He’s angry just like me and you –

But he ended up making millions!

This is a coming of age story, that isn’t all that interesting. Even with us knowing the boy that yearns to be the next Elvis, ends up surpassing the King in talent. His relationship with his real mom did seem to rival Elvis’ somewhat incestuous one.

The Beatles are one of my favorite bands, so maybe I didn’t care for the movie as much since I knew many of the stories involving his real mom and his aunt Mimi (played wonderfully by Kristin Scott Thomas, in what could bring her a Supporting Actress nomination).

There’s a fine performance by Aaron Johnson as the young Lennon, but I didn’t care for the kid that played Paul McCartney.

At first I was enjoying the little history lesson it was giving people on the birth of rock ‘n roll. They mention Ike Turner, who had the first rock ‘n roll song ever – the 1951 release Rocket 88, which is played and sung along to.

They talk about Bo Diddley, Tchaikovsky, Big Mama Thornton, and a long scene involving Screamin’ Jay Hawkins' I Put a Spell on You (although they could’ve shortened that sing-a-long and instead had more Lennon history to provide us).

We also get to hear the early skiffle sounds of The Quarrymen (yes, there was a band Lennon and McCartney had before The Beatles) – and people get to know there was a song called Maggie May years before Rod Stewart (many years, as that Liverpool classic is 200 years old).

Beatles fun fact: It’s the second shortest song ever to appear on a Beatles record, at 40 seconds. The shortest is Her Majesty, at 23.

But those are the types of facts you don’t get in the movie. Even Stu Sutcliffe (who was featured prominently in a Beatles bio pic – Backbeat -- 15 years ago in a very powerful and enjoyable film) – he was only mentioned by first name once.

This movie opens on October 8th, and the following day John would’ve turned 70. A perfect time to see the movie, but only if you’re a hardcore fan.

The film may have captured the spirit of Lennon and his teen angst and rebelliousness. Dude had some serious abandonment issues.

I just think it would’ve worked better as a show on BBC television.

The ending, with the Lennon classic Mother, is powerful stuff.

Lyrics: Mother, you had me, but I never had you/I wanted you, but you didn’t want me/So I got to tell you, goodbye.

Rent the incredible documentary Imagine instead.

I’m giving this a C- (but was really tempted to give it a D).