My favorite movie of all time may come as a bit of a surprise. I’m talking favorite here not best movie. The one that I most want to watch, especially when I am feeling down is none other than Roddy Doyle’s classic “The Commitments”…spelled T-H-E.
I first saw the film when it was released in 1991 with some friends back in college. One of those friends, by the way, can belt out a kick ass version of Mustang Sally and did so at my wedding rehearsal dinner. Didn’t even use her Irish accent.
What makes this movie so special for me? Well, the music of course….Dublin soul! These are real musicians and singers almost exclusively. The music is fantastic and the movie culminates in a chills inducing version of Try a Little Tenderness. However, there is something else there that keeps me coming back for more. To paraphrase Jimmy Rabbitte, “sure it’s basic and it’s simple. But it’s something else ’cause it’s honest, that’s it. Its honest. There’s no bullshit. It sticks its neck out and says it straight from the heart. It takes you somewhere else. It grabs you by the balls and lifts you above the shite”. He says this about soul music, but I believe this is also what makes the movie so irresistible to me.
The members of the band come from all walks of life. Just like “The Breakfast Club” there is a brain (on piano), a beauty (backup singer), a jock (on sax) , a rebel (on drums) and a recluse (playing trumpet). The Commitments adds to that mix an extremely talented jackass singing lead and the ever hopeful manager trying desperately to hold it all together and achieve success. For a fleeting moment it appears as if Jimmy has pulled it off and this toxic group will mesh long enough to make records and be famous. After it all I am left to wonder if Wilson Pickett had left his gig a little bit earlier and ended up jamming with them, maybe just maybe…
Every time it gets me. Things are going so well and the band gets really really good. Then, just like that it’s over. Every time I want more. Every time the crowd called out for more. But this is why I keep coming back when I need a pick me up. The chance for a bunch of nobodies to come together and make beautiful music together. It’s just a question of timing…and time is relative.
Joey says I’m missin’ the point, “the success of the band was irrelevant – you raised their expectations of life, you lifted their horizons. Sure we could have been famous and made albums and stuff, but that would have been predictable. This way it’s poetry.
Well, actually that is my point and Joey, Joey was a liar.