“I saw a film today, oh boy,” said Kyle Smith in the New York Post. Julie Taymor’s Across the Universe is a Beatles musical in bold strokes, alternately inspired and appalling. Building a story around 33 reinvented Beatles songs, the movie has very little plot, and no character development to speak of. Instead, we travel through the ’60s at breakneck pace, touching upon every one of the cliché cultural moments that make up your average TV-movie montage. But it’s hard to hate Across the Universe, which has an undeniable visual flair and endearing belief in feel-good nostalgia. This expansive, expensive movie runs at least 20 minutes too long, said Ty Burr in The Boston Globe. Among the scenes that should have ended up on the cutting-room floor: a hideous rendition of “For the Benefit of Mr. Kite” and “Let It Be” sung to images of the Detroit riots. “Across the Universe is hobbled by its vaguely insulting comic-book version of the ’60s,” which never addresses the moral complexities of the decade. But the movie’s refusal to see beyond itself is part of its charm, said Stephen Holden in The New York Times. If it hadn’t been “completely devoid of the protective cynicism that is now a reflexive response to the term ‘the ’60s,’” this sugary celebration of a band and its era never would have worked.
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