The Commitments Blu-ray Review
Music is in the heart of Jimmy Rabbitte. It guides his steps and builds his demeanor. He wants badly to be involved in the world that has done so much for him. For now, he’ll sell cassettes.
Everyone he knows knows he’s the go-to for music. He’s such a wise mind about the business and meaning of it all that it’s not surprising when he’s called upon to manage a band. This happens at a wedding he drops in on. Laying out that ballads are no path to legitimacy, Jimmy (Robert Arkins) declares that the only kind of band he’ll be involved with will play soul (Dublin Soul, namely).
Jimmy puts an ad in the paper to assemble an ideal band, resulting in an amusing sequence in which he repeatedly slams the door in the face of anyone who names Led Zeppelin, Wings or U2 as an influence. He needs the kind of people that won’t mime whatever is “in,” but rather study James Brown concerts to get the showmanship down. Why soul, anyway? As Jimmy puts it, “The Irish are the blacks of Europe. And Dubliners are the blacks of Ireland. And the Northside Dubliners are the blacks of Dublin.” He’s black and he’s proud!
With the band of about a dozen assembled, The Commitments (complete with backup singings, clumsily dubbed The Commitmentettes) begin the quest for domination, jamming, playing gigs and trying to have as good of a time as any band before.
THE COMMITMENTS could have been a fun movie if it wasn’t so irritating. The chief reason for this is Jimmy, who is a bit of a pretentious wanker, demonstrated straightly when he demands his bandmates stop listening to Guns n’ Roses so they can focus more on the works of Aretha Franklin. He’s a champion for soul music, but he’s also used as a tool to redirect the audience’s own taste in music. And so while he’s brainwashing his band so he can achieve his own selfish goals, he’s trying to do the same with the audience to up soundtrack sales.
Stemming from this, the movie is wildly misguided. At one point, Jimmy expresses disdain that white musicians stole from Marvin Gaye; yet, he and the band are doing the same thing. If Jimmy so badly wants to present North Dublin with soul, why not run around town handing out cassettes? What, really, does Jimmy know about the struggles? How laughable it is when the band’s lead singer, Deco (Andrew Strong), bursts into “Mr. Pitiful.” This isn’t a display of great music coming from the right place; it’s a showcase of an entitled twit ripping the heart out of great music.
Directed by Alan Parker (1980’s FAME, 1982’s PINK FLOYD – THE WALL), THE COMMITMENTS so badly wants us to cheer for the titular band. But “Try a Little Tenderness” just doesn’t have the same power as it did from Otis Redding. Even Duckie had a more natural rendition.
Video: 1.85:1 in 1080p with MPEG-4 AVC codec. While this video presentation is far from crisp, details and colors still show up fairly nicely, making this the finest THE COMMITMENTS has looked on home video.
Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1. Subtitles in English. As anticipated, the music sequences come through wonderfully here.
Director’s commentary with Alan Parker: In this 2003 track, Parker discusses various aspects of THE COMMITMENTS, some of which is covered in the below featurettes. Still, it’s a fine track that fans will want to listen to if interested in behind-the-scenes stories.
25 Years Later: Interview with Alan Parker and Cast (19:09): Parker, Robert Arkins and a select few others reflect on the movie, their involvement and more.
The Making of Alan Parker’s Film THE COMMITMENTS (22:37): This featurette covers the production and some of the ideas explored.
THE COMMITMENTS: Looking Back (47:11): This documentary, which is something of an earlier version of the “25 Years Later” piece, features much more of the cast and crew, resulting in a more thorough account of the making of the movie.
Dublin Soul (14:53): Author Roddy Doyle and more touch on “the working class and the changing face of Dublin.”
Making of THE COMMITMENTS (8:05): Yet another take on the background of the movie.
“Treat Her Right” Music Video