In February, 1964, the Beatles invaded the United States by way of "The Ed Sullivan Show". Like Elvis Presley before them, the effect of the Boys from Liverpool on women was an amazing (if not downright scary) phenomenon. In I Wanna Hold Your Hand, the then unknown team of Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale revisit this time period and follow the wacky exploits of four women who drive to New York in an attempt to meet the Beatles, as well as try to figure out a way to crash the show.
Each of the women have their own motives: Rosie (Wendy Jo Sperber) is madly in love with Paul McCartney, Grace (Theresa Saldana) just knows that if she gets pictures of the Fab Four her Journalism career will take off; Pam (Nancy Allen) is not really sure about going, after all she's engaged to Eddie and they're going to elope in a few days, and Janice (Susan Kendall Newman) wishes to expose these poseurs as the commercial frauds that they really are. Along the way they enlist the help of an assortment of men: nerdy Larry (Mark McClure), because his dad owns limousines and they figure they can get close to the Beatle's hotel in one; Tony (Bobby Di Cicco), because he hates the Beatles but likes Janice so he tags along, and spazoid Ringo (Eddie Deezen), who takes to the Beatles the way most nerdboys take to "Star Trek" (as a matter of fact his character was based on a Trekkie).
I Wanna Hold Your Hand is a sensitive look at erotomania, an affliction that infects thousands of normally rational men and women every year. Okay, I jest; I just wanted you to go find a dictionary to look up that word. It's a slapstick comedy with absurd dialog and situations (a Zemeckis/Gale tradition). I caught it originally on HBO in the early 80's and I loved it. I found this movie to still be funny and enjoyable (although I admit Zemeckis/Gale humor is an aquired taste. They wrote 1941, after all). None of the cast stands out from the others, all taking their equal share of doing pratfalls, screaming, and abusing security guards (Dick Miller cameo alert!). Nancy Allen, however, does get her own hilarious moment when she realizes she's in the Beatles' hotel room alone so she fondles Paul McCartney's bass guitar in an erotic manner (with the movie rated PG it's not as gross as it sounds).
Speaking of 1941, Steven Spielberg was involved with the production of I Wanna Hold Your Hand (he executive produced). I think, judging by the commentary (more on that later), I have finally figured out what an executive producer does: he/she helps friends make needed connections so that they can get their movies made. Despite Spielberg's influence, this movie crept into movie theaters and died a quick death (so did 1941, now that I think about it). Zemeckis and Gale also struck out with Used Cars in 1980, a
much funnier film thanks to the smarmy, inspired performance by Kurt Russell, but then they knocked one out of the park in 1985 with a small film called Back To The Future.
I'm giving the disk itself a decent rating despite it being a bare bones release. First off, I'm just insanely pleased to finally have a copy of this movie in my collection. Secondly, the commentary by Zemeckis and Gale is a recollection of how hard it was to get movies made in the late 70's. They discuss having to face the constant obstacles from the studio (especially concerning rights to Beatle's songs and images), the absurd rules they had to adhere to in dealing with unions, and the ingenuity they used in getting the shots they needed. Well worth listening to if you have a fascination with the inner workings of the Hollywood movie machine.
The only other special feature on this DVD is a photo album. It was bleah.
I also liked this release because the last time I saw this movie it was cut to ribbons on broadcast TV. I recall it looked like crap, the colors seemed all washed out and the sound was murky. On DVD, this movie looked like it was filmed yesterday with sharp colors and restored sound. DVD rules because it's a relatively cheap way of obtaining movies that will look and sound good. For those of us that love certain obscure, somewhat mediocre movies the DVD medium is a godsend.
If you caught this movie long ago but haven't seen it in ages, or are bored and want to see a relatively non-offensive movie, or are a Robert Zemeckis completist this DVD is for you. Also, if you loved those four guys who changed the face of pop music in the 60's/70's, this movie will bring a nostalgic smile to your face.