Posted on February 25, 2019
by Steve Janowick

The greatest front man ever?

That’s not an unreasonable argument in my opinion.  To describe Freddie Mercury would require more adjectives than I’m willing to search for on my phone’s thesaurus.  But if I had to pick a single word that best encapsulated him, it would be “showman”. He combined the characteristics of all the great front men that proceeded him (Jagger, Plant, Morrison, Bowie), blended them up, added his own panache, then walked out on stage-or should I say strutted out on stage.  And together with his band mates in Queen, put on shows and produced records that made them one of the greatest rock acts of all time!

So, I was excited as hell (but also cautiously skeptical) when the first teasers started popping up for the new docu-drama movie, Bohemian Rhapsody.  Would the filmmakers be able to make a movie that was as interesting and eclectic as the subject they were actually documenting?  Would it be an accurate depiction that even the most discerning Queen fan could enjoy and appreciate? Would there be enough character development and substantive plot to allow for emotional investment?  Would the script employ plausible dialogue and an effective narrative arc? Would the actors have the chops to be believable enough in their respective roles?

Sadly, the answer to all of these was…no.

As a fan of 70’s cinema and an auteur wannabe, I consider myself a bit of a film snob.  I like to think I know a thing or two about what makes an entertaining, and still critically viable, movie.

Hold on! I’m actually making myself sick to my stomach.  Yea, I know. I sound like one of those hoity toity NPR hosts.  Sorry about that.

Anyway, I feel like they could have really made a killer movie about a killer band and their leader.  But instead they made the same old boring derivative movie that’s been done a million times before. It had clunky dialogue and cookie cutter secondary characters (especially the other three members of the band).  The chronology was suspect to say the least. They were playing songs from their 1980 album The Game before 1977’s mega-smash song We Will Rock You.  Instead of maybe focusing on a weighty singular event in the band’s reign or in Freddie’s life they tried to neatly fit in every important milestone and situation through cheesy exposition and contrived set-ups.  There was no real narrative arc to speak of. And, lastly, barring the brilliant performance by Rami Malik as Freddie, the other actors just weren’t that good.

As their muse, they were lucky enough to have one of the most charismatic, enigmatic, unique and complex characters ever to reside in our popular culture stratosphere.  He was the shining star and everyone else just orbited around his light and energy-including his band mates. He possessed a range and depth seldom seen in many humans, much less entertainers.  Yet, the filmmakers chose to stay on the surface. To play it close to the vest. To play it safe.

It isn’t a bad movie-don’t get me wrong, it is entertaining.  Just for the music alone-it is worth checking out. It is also a fun trip down memory lane for the dude longing for his youth.  But ultimately, it is a movie that sticks to the formula. It is for the masses. And that’s probably what they were going for to begin with.  A movie that would appeal to a broad audience. Young and old. Mega fanatics and the casual fan. To make lots of cabbage! And on that level, it is beyond successful-breaking box office records left and right and raking in the cash.  But, oh, it could have been so much more.

And, I have a sneaky suspicion that if Freddie was alive today, he’d be in agreement with me.  He’d say…You want a movie? Just turn the cameras and microphones on and point them all at me, Darlings…

I’ll give you a movie!

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