• U.S.

Cinema: Dublin Soul

2 minute read
Richard Corliss

Hey, kids, let’s put the show on right here! Better yet, let Alan Parker stage it for you. In Bugsy Malone (1976) and Fame (1980), this English director assembled teen casts for slick, violent musical parables. Now, in THE COMMITMENTS, he turns Roddy Doyle’s novel about a Dublin band into a rousing entertainment. It has the larkish wit and edgy camaraderie of the Beatles’ first film, A Hard Day’s Night, to which it might serve as a prequel: a kid on the dole (Robert Arkins) organizes a fledgling group devoted to covering ’60s rhythm-and-blues songs. How fervently these members of the Irish underclass wish to be black! And how it must have tempted Parker, who in his recent films (Mississippi Burning, Come See the Paradise) has told America what to think about racial issues, to insert a lecture during the break. Here, though, the big drama is whether soul survivor Wilson Pickett will show up at the band’s big gig. The picture could be half an hour shorter or twice as long — and that would be just fine, because The Commitments runs on rough charm and roadhouse melody. The film offers no message, no solutions, only a great time at the movies. R.C.

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