Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
Walking on Sunshine: Get Your 1980s Pop Nostalgia On
beach himbos are meant to be disposable, good for a summer fling before their
expiration date kicks in. Like last year’s cherry blossoms, they might be lovely
to look back on, but it would be awkward and ultimately unsatisfying to carry
them around indefinitely. Nevertheless, two sisters will fall for one. In fact,
it is the same monosyllabic pretty boy, but now that Maddie is engaged to the
luggish Raf, the more repressed Taylor is determined to keep their past romance
secret in Max Giwa & Dania Paquini (a.k.a. Max & Dania)’s 1980s pop
jukebox musical Walking on Sunshine (trailer here), which launches
this Friday on VOD.
know Taylor is the more practical one, because she has been studying at “Uni,”
as we hear over and over. The one time she really let her hair down was a
summer in Perugia. She therefore recommends it to her more romantic (flightier)
sister Maddy as a place to nurse her latest broken heart. Her prescription
works only too well. Arriving to discover Maddy is already engaged to the beach
bum she was hoping to pick up with again, the heartbroken Taylor resolves to
put up a brave front. Needless to say, the circumstances of the whirlwind
wedding will make that difficult. Meanwhile, Maddy will try to fend off Doug,
the jerk-heel ex-boyfriend she recently dumped for the umpteenth time.
is possible that Sunshine bears some
superficial resemblance to the ABBA juke-boxer Mamma Mia, but who here would possibly know? Regardless, none of
this could be considered super-fresh territory. Let’s be honest, these are all
stock characters. Poor backstory-less Raf is particularly weak. You will find
more personality stuffed and mounted on the wall of a hunting lodge.
it must be conceded the way the tunes were selected and molded into something
like a book musical is often quite clever. Madonna’s “Holiday” is sort of an
obvious choice for a flag-waving opener, but the big airport dance number is
appealingly choreographed. Unfortunately, Bananarama’s cover arrangement of “Venus”
is still lame, nearly thirty years after its initial release.
the real surprise is how adroitly Katrina and the Waves’ title tune has been
adapted to serve the film’s dramatic needs. Similarly, the rendition of “If I Could
Turn Back Time” (associated with Cher) could not be any more manipulative, but
the tune does what it needs to do as an emotional climax, worming its way into
your head afterward. Human League’s “Don’t You Want Me,” Roxette’s “It Must
Have Been Love,” and the Bangles’ “Eternal Flame” also perfectly fit the vibe
of the film and move the action along nicely.
sister Hannah is game enough as Taylor, but if you see one film this week with
an Arterton, it absolutely, positively must be Gemma Bovery. Problematically, it is just hard to believe either
woman could get hung up on a vacant stare, like Giulio Berruti’s Raf (is that
supposed to be a patriotic hat tip to the Royal Air Force?). For the most part
though, Sunshine’s cast is attractive,
but not inhumanly so. The Perugia backdrops are lovely and the local Tomato
Festival (sort of like Holi, but with tomatoes) looks like a lot of fun. By the
way, the dude with the soul patch playing Doug the sleaze is Emma Thompson’s
husband, Greg Wise.
film might be hummable, but it isn’t even an inch deep. Still, if you grew up
with these tunes (who else saw Katrina and the Waves open up for Squeeze?
Anyone? Seriously, that was a good show), this just might be a guilty,
shame-ridden pleasure. Recommended solely as a sugary vehicle for nostalgia, Walking on Sunshine hits VOD platforms
this Friday (5/29).
Labels: 1980s Pop, Jukebox Musicals