Bohemian Rhapsody

While I always respected Queen’s musicianship and creativity, and liked many of their songs, I was never a super-fan. So while I admit to ignorance about the behind-the-scenes details of their existence, I do know enough to know that “We Will Rock You” was written and recorded for the band’s 1977 album News of the World, which was my first real introduction to Queen as a 13-year-old, not just from hearing it all over the radio but because my older sister had it in her record collection. Yet it’s portrayed in this biopic as being concocted years later, in the early ’80s, after Freddie Mercury had gone full-on Village People leather guy. It’s a puzzling misrepresentation, since there seems to be absolutely no reason for it. Other than that, I have no real qualms with Bryan Singer’s film – as rock biopics go, it’s shallow but probably about as good as it could be. The sequence about the composition of “Bohemian Rhapsody” – which, let’s face it, is probably the strangest hit song in the history of popular music – is funny and fascinating. And the concert segments are spectacular and rousing. Being that the climax of the film is the group’s triumphant performance at Live Aid in 1985, I expected it to end with one, maybe two songs from that. But no – they recreate (almost) the entire 20-minute performance! And it’s amazing! Another thing that impressed me: you know how every musical biopic, the actors resemble the musicians enough that, okay, it’s passable, it’s good enough to be believable? These guys – not only Rami Malek as man-child Mercury, but the ones playing Brian May, Roger Taylor and John Deacon – look EXACTLY like the guys in the actual band did. I mean, it’s beyond uncanny. They’re perfect. Props, too, for casting Mike Myers – who’s probably more responsible than anyone for introducing a younger generation to the absurd brilliance of “Bohemian Rhapsody” in Wayne’s World – as a crotchety EMI Records exec who tells the band that six-minute opera nonsense’ll never be a hit!