Ron Howard’s documentary unfortunately contains little that was not done better in the epic television documentary The Beatles Anthology (1995) and nothing that will be revelatory to Beatles fans of any level. What’s being touted is new footage, and there is that. I’d never seen, for example, footage from concerts in Manilla and Tokyo, and that stuff is definitely interesting. Mostly, though, Howard’s troops seem to have found a whole lot of extra footage of young women being hysterical, and that becomes as wearisome as it did to the Fab Four.
Also included in your cinema ticket price is a half-hour edit of The Beatles At Shea Stadium, which follows the ninety minute film. But – as Paul himself says in the documentary! – the Beatles couldn’t hear themselves play at that gig, with shocking results. Likewise, the cleaned-up sound for this “bonus, only-in-cinemas” content only highlights the mediocrity of the playing. Paul, in particular, sounds awful.
What saves the whole thing, of course, are The Beatles. I could simply live in their endless company – they were so charismatic, charming, funny and adorable in this period. And that is no small thing. Indeed, if you’ve got the eighteen bucks, there is absolutely no reason not to see Eight Days A Week, because it’s still two hours in the company of four of the most enjoyable people ever.
Unfortunately, the only conclusion I can draw is that someone involved needs money. This massively promoted cash-grab will not go down in history as one of the better Beatles documents. When my daughter is ready, I’ll be showing her the Anthology. She can dig this one up on her own, when she’s rather desperate.