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'Two of Us' gives lame view of complex men

Friday, January 28, 2000

By Ed Masley, Post-Gazette Pop Music Critic

I was a teen-age Beatlemaniac. They'd broken up when I was 4, as fate would have it. And yet, I assure you, I lived for the thought of a Lennon-McCartney reunion in the days of "Silly Love Songs," feathered hair and "Charlie's Angels" with the same sort of near-pathological passion you'd find in an older, more unbalanced Beatles freak who'd been there, done that in the '60s.

I can still remember where I was the day I heard the rumor that McCartney had, in fact, been visiting Lennon in New York the very day Lorne Michaels jokingly offered the band $3,000 to reunite for a three-song set on "SNL."

And now I've seen the film.

Or as the coolest guy in history once sang, "I saw a film today, oh boy."

Oh boy, indeed.


"The Two of Us"

When: 9 p.m. Tuesday on VH1.

Starring: Jared Harris, Aidan Quinn


"The Two of Us," a made-for-TV movie premiering at 9 p.m. Tuesday on VH1, is what that fabled reunion at Lennon's apartment in '76 might have been like if Lennon, McCartney and life itself were as corny, pathetic and downright embarrassing as they tend to be in made-for-TV movies.

There are other problems, too, as is often the case with things as problematic as "The Two of Us."

John Lennon had a mean streak. This we know. But here, he comes across as a nastier, uglier version of the lunatic DeNiro played in "Cape Fear," while McCartney is cast in the role of the innocent victim.


The actors (Jared Harris as the wicked Mr. Lennon, Aidan Quinn as Saint McCartney) neither look nor sound a thing like either Beatle.

Apparently, Harris was cast because he had the glasses.

Quinn, a better actor, spends the movie drifting in and out of what, at best, could potentially pass for a poor man's imitation of McCartney - in for 30 seconds, out for 30 minutes.

I'm thinking they would have been better off casting the actors who handled the voice-over work for that cool little Saturday morning cartoon.

Which, by the way, was far more realistic.

And the music?

It would seem they weren't allowed to use the Beatles' music (yet another reason I prefer the animated series). What you do get in its place is John and Paul at John's piano singing "Tumbling Tumbleweeds" in one of many scenes so bad, I nearly left the room.

I kid you not.

There are a few sweet moments guaranteed to touch the heart of any Beatlemaniac. But in the end, the only thing they've really captured is the tension.

All that really means, of course, is that it's not just corny, poorly cast, ineptly acted, transparently up-with-McCartney and all-around shabby. It's also a bit of a drag, as John would say.

Who really needs to see the Beatles as "Grumpy Old Men"?

They spared us that particular indignity by breaking up before it came to that.

For a fictional mystery tour of a day (or a month or a year) in the life of the Beatles, you're better off taking a sad song and making it better by renting a copy of "Backbeat." The accents are better. The acting is better. And best of all, it rocks - a word you'll never see associated with "The Two of Us."

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