94 of 98 people found the following review helpful
on May 7, 2001
One of the funniest parodies of a rock band ever, and likely the very first "mockumentary", THE RUTLES: ALL YOU NEED IS CASH is a brilliant send-up chronicling the events of the "prefab four". This 70-minute "semi-feature" film conceived by ex-Python Eric Idle who plays the Paul McCartney-esque character Dirk McQuickly was produced by Lorne Michaels of SNL and includes various cameos from the classic SNL cast (Bill Murray, John Belushi, Dan Ackroyd, Gilda Radner) as well as cameos from Mick Jagger, Ron Wood, Paul Simon, ex-Python Michael Palin and even George Harrison himself as an interviewer! Neil Innes (who plays the John Lennon character Ron Nasty -- quite brilliantly I might add) also contributes some of the greatest Beatles song parodies imaginable -- they are both hilarious and actually quite clever in that they still manage to stand on their own as original songs. Anyone who has seen the later real documentary, THE COMPLEAT BEATLES (or even the ANTHOLOGY), will have to see this to believe it -- the major events of The Beatles twisted around and reapplied to The Rutles! The mock performances will have Beatles fans howling with laughter. For example, a flawless recreation of The Beatles' goofy, surreal "I am the Walrus" performance from the MAGICAL MYSTERY TOUR film becomes "Piggy in the Middle", and the "Cheese and Onions" clip exactly imitates the animation from YELLOW SUBMARINE, except now it's YELLOW SUBMARINE SANDWICH! Oh and don't forget the hilarious album covers and their titles: OUCH!, SGT. RUTTER'S ONLY DARTS CLUB BAND, TRAGICAL HISTORY TOUR, LET IT ROT.
Now finally available on DVD, the extras include a brief intro by Eric Idle's narrator character some 23 years later ... well not really 23 years if you watch it a year or two from now (you'll get what I mean!), as well as audio commentary and text memoirs from Eric Idle, and a photo gallery.
39 of 42 people found the following review helpful
In 1978 it was easy to remember Beatlemania, and this sendup of the mass hysteria was spot-on and hilarious. Starting as a skit for Saturday Night Live, and popular enough to get built into a feature-length film, this Eric Idle project is layered with jokes, spoofs, terrific songs, and great cameos by George Harrison, Mick Jagger, Paul Simon and Idle's wife, and it is still very funny 25 years later.
DVD extras are quite good. Eric Idle's commentary is excellent -- informative and entertaining. There are also 4 deleted scenes that last about 18 minutes; a photo gallery with 29 pictures; a "Play Songs Only" option, where you ee only the film's songs (Goose Step Mama, Number One, Between Us, With a Girl Like You, Hold My Hand, I Must Be in Love, Living in Hope, and Ouch!).
The look and sensibility of the film are exactly right, the writing is VERY funny, and the songs are surprisingly Beatle-like and quite listenable. If you are a Beatles or Monty Python fan, or if you just love good comedy, you will probably get a real kick out of this.
23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on February 27, 2004
The movie was made more than 20 years ago, but retains its relevance as the Beatles continue to be a cultural icon. While the Rutles was not originally intended to be a full length movie, the product is great.
The project was completed long before John Lennon's murder, so all four members could approve the project. The Beatles are spoofed by the characters in the unique personality traits possessed by each member of the fab four and their scandals. The one-liners and song parodies prove Eric Idle's value to Monty Python and strength as comedic writer. The parody on Yoko Ono being "... a Nazi who's father invented World War II" is hilarious. Look for a scene midway through the song "Ouch!" in which Idle can not even control his own laughter at the monsterous woman in a bikini. I bet it a was too hard to get through a take with a straight face. This is a must for Beatles fans and Monty Python fans.
20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on December 30, 2003
If you're a Beatle fan, and for some reason you've never heard of this film, immediatley purchase this DVD!
IT is the ultimate parody of Beatlemania. The Rutles was initially released as a made for NBC TV film in 1978. Created by the Saturday Night Live team and Eric Idle (Monty Python), it has a distinct British flavor and Pythonesque sense of humor. It is basically a "mockumentary". Here's an example: after "Nasty" (John Lennon) proclaims the Rutles are bigger than God, the public is outraged, and start burning Rutle records. Record sales soared, people were buying them just to burn them! It turns out that the journalist who interviewed Nasty was hard of hearing. Nasty said the Rutles were bigger than "Rod" (Stewart)!!
The mockumentary covers the entire Beatle phenomenon up to their break-up.
The film gained more fans on video, and is now a bonafide cult classic. The music by Neil Innes (who wrote songs for Python) is superb, and he is perfect as John Lennon. Eric Idle plays McCartney and directs. The songs parodies are also on cd. They are amazingly Beatle-like.
The film is never critical, but made as a tribute with large doses of humor. The harsh aspects of Beatlemania are lightened. For example, Brian Epstein does not die in Rutleland, he accepts a teaching post in Australia.
Even if you are not a Beatle fan, this film is still a lot of fun, although you may not get all of the references.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on June 4, 2002
What's genius about the Rutles is this: Watch the Rutles, and then watch one of the Beatles documentaries (the Compleat Beatles, etc) - then note that the Rutles was made PRIOR to any of the decent Beatles documentaries, yet looks like a parody of the real deal.
This mockumentary pre-dates Spinal Tap, and takes a different approach - by chronicalling supposed "source" material - news reels, press conferences, etc. The approach works well for Eric Idle, and the music by Neil Innes is perfect - slightly silly, but more Beatles than Weird Al.
The knowledge of the Beatles - their personal history, their tv appearances, their scandals, etc - is so well known by Idle - makes this mockumentary spot-on accurate, and all the more funny.
The DVD is worth having. If you have this on VHS, you've got a pretty lousy transfer from the original 16mm film. The film was restored and retransfered for DVD, and it casts the movie in a whole new light of clarity.
The bonus material isn't much to write home (or Amazon) about, but it's nice to have the stuff added on such a low priced DVD.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on January 26, 2004
This little treasure is something that all Beatles fans, Python fans and early SNL fans should own. It's the one thing that Idle says he is most proud of, and for good reason. His little bits, which perfectly parody the Beatles that Idle so adored, fit seamlessly into Innes' fantastic songs. Idle comments that Innes' songs added another dimension to the Beatles songs they're based off of rather than becoming shameless parodies (are you listening Weird Al?) and he is quite right.
The film contains moments of comic genius, but mind you they're mostly subtle moments of comic genius. The people I've run into that didn't think this film is funny at all tend to like the blatant, loud, American-style humor. So be patient with the humor, enjoy the music and discover the true genius of the Rutles.
By the end of the film, I almost cared more about the fictional Rutles than I did about the actual Beatles. (And I'm a huge Beatles fanatic) It's just a fantastic, fun film for those who can appreciate the true, witty humor.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on July 8, 2005
Just to supply some missing facts. Contrary to what has been stated in other reviews, The Rutles did not originate on Saturday Night Live. The idea goes back to 1975, when Eric Idle dreamed up a TV company called "Rutland Weekend Television". Rutland is the smallest county in England, a mere 152 square miles, and RWT was set up as a pretend rival to LWT, or London Weekend Televison, a commercial TV company founded by David Frost. Of course RWT wasn't a TV company at all, but a programme that Idle developed for the BBC. It aired in 1975-6 (George Harrison guested in one episode singing a Harrison-Idle composition).
In one sketch Neil Innes sings a mournful Beatles-style song, "I Must Be in Love", which gradually morphs into a black and white film of four lads singing in the style of A Hard Day's Night. Inevitably, they were called The Rutles. What else?
Later, when Idle hosted Saturday Night Live in America, he imported this sketch into one show, and it proved popular enough to be turned into a TV movie by NBC.
The original tapes of the Rutland Weekend Television series probably still exist, but so far the BBC hasn't chosen to put them out as DVDs. Why don't you email them and complain? They'll never do it unless they think there's a demand.
The Harrison connection really goes back much further. The first episodes of Monty Python aired in 1969 on the BBC's minority channel, BBC2. If I recall right, it went out at about 11 p.m. and was watched only by a few insomniacs like me. To begin with the viewing figures were small enough that the BBC might easily have cancelled the show before the first series was over, except that by that time its small audience had become quite fanatical. George Harrison was one of them. He actually phoned the BBC after the first episode to say that it was the best thing he'd ever seen. So it's possible that MP owes its survival to him.
Whatever - the Rutles movie has its faults. For one thing, I think a lot of the sketches were trimmed to fit when they made the movie, and the originals from which they were developed were funnier. But it's great entertainment. And it's not a satire on the Beatles, but a tribute to them. You couldn't parody Beatles songs as well as they did unless you knew them inside out.
It's a steal. What else would you prefer to spend your money on?
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on February 26, 2006
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
When I saw this movie on public television in 1978, I knew even then that this was the quintessential rock and roll parody. It was released five years before "This is Spinal Tap." If you follow along carefully, the historical (hysterical) references in this movie are dead-on accurate, although convuluted in the extreme of parody. For example, the Beatles mystical trek to India was parodied as a Rutles trip to a small town in England by train, where they became involved with a mystic that looked like an undersized and undersexed accountant. Brian Epstein's death was parodied as Leggy Mountbatten's (charmed by their trousers) tragic decision to move to Australia where he accepted a teaching position. One would think that the Beatles documentary movie entitled "The Compleat [sic!] Beatles," which almost mirrors "The Rutles" change by change, chronologically preceded The Rutles...but NO. "The Compleat Beatles followed "The Rutles" by several years, suggesting that "The Rutles," despite its parody, actually served as an accurate chronogram of The Beatles. Besides the dry and silly wit, the parody, and the ostensible historical accuracy, the music was spectacular!! Neil Innes (aka Ron Nasty in the movie) created a CD worth of music in two weeks for that film...and it was, in my opinion, absolute genius. Besides the steely integrity and high quality of the soundtrack, the music harked strongly back to the Beatles--but not so much via copying lyrics and riffs, but by melding styles and lyrical constructs that suggested rather than copied different Beatles songs to make unique music that stands on its own merit as Rutles music (although a precious few songs did sound very much like one particular Beatles song). The lyrics to each song tended to parody a corresponding Beatles song, or even a set of several Beatles songs--lyrically and conceptually. One has to be a Beatles freak to really understand that, but if one is, then one will get it. The follow up CD was equally great...giving TWO great CDs worth of music to go along with the classic 1978 movie. The fact that an array of stars were in this movie, to include original SNL greats, members of the Beatles and Rolling Stones, and more than one Monty Python member, was secondary to the parody itself. The concepts tended to eccentricity and were oft times abstract, as exemplified by the parody of George Harrison's character being a super-reticent Indian fellow. This was also noted by the Yoko Ono parody. Her character was not Japanese, but instead--German, i.e., from another "axis" country, wearing a Gestapo uniform and being characterized as the daughter of the "...man who invented World War II..." All in all, "The Rutles--All You Need is Cash" is not the BEST move ever made, but it is up there and it is my FAVORITE movie due to the extreme parody, my appreciation of the Beatles, the superb cast, and the great accompanying music. Although "This is Spinal Tap" is extraordinarily great in its own right--both the movie and the music...Rob Reiner, the creator of Spinal Tap, still should pay Eric Idle and Neil Innes royalties for peeling the crux of the ideas for "Tap" from The Rutles concept. For major fans of the Rutles, there is the 25th anniversary follow-up to "All You Need Is Cash," a re-hash of the original with a few new wrinkles, to include an array of new interviews with an eclectic array of star entertainers that bolster the parody concept. However, for the less enthusiastic fan of The Rutles, the follow-up movie would be nearly useless. It really is difficult for me to stop gushing over the greatness of The Rutles, but I guess this apotheosis for "The Rutles-All You Need is Cash," has to end some time, and will do so right here, but not before I admit to the world that I, indeed, have participated in the ritual drinking of tea--and lots of it.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on August 18, 2001
Upon the break-up of the TV Pythons, John Cleese studied the fundamentals of French and Italian farce in order to create the outstanding 'Fawlty Towers', Michael Palin and Terry Jones went back to boyhood adventure stories to devise the brilliant 'Ripping Yarn' parodies, and Eric Idle teamed up with ex-Bonzo Neil Innes to write the 'Rutland Weekend Television' (RWT) series for BBC2. Borrowing most of its name from a genuine TV station (London Weekend Television), RWT anticipated the unstoppable rise of regional television produced on a shoestring. (Several comic teams have copied the idea since, for instance the Deayton/Perkins/Pope-created 'KY-TV'.) I saw many of the episodes of RWT, but it's no coincidence that they were rarely (if ever) repeated and that the series has never made it to video. The sketch failure rate was very high on RWT, far higher than even late Python episodes. We watched RWT less for the jokes and more for the anarchy. The Rutles started off as short spoof pop video for one episode and got expanded into this 70-minute mini-film documentary.
'The Rutles' was an exception to the rule that a single sketch can't be built up into a full series or film. It worked brilliantly. Until buying this DVD, I had only seen the film once -- on its original UK broadcast at 8.45 on 27th March 1978 -- but I was instantly overcome with Rutlemania, buying the LP and writing off to WEA for any posters or Rutle merchandise they could send me.
I'm sure the Rutles documentary helped to define the classic visual moments in the Beatles' only story. George Harrison was closely involved in the project, so it had the stamp of approval of at least 25% of the original Fab Four. According to Eric's commentary on the DVD, both Ringo and John also enjoyed it. I suspect that Paul McCartney had more problems with it; Eric's imitation of Paul's wide-eyed innocence is stunningly accurate, and the scene in which Dirk is struggling to compose a nursery-rhyme-like song for his nuptials with Bianca Jagger is an incisive and wicked depiction!
The jokes, such as they are, have not stood the test of time. From this evidence, Eric comes across as better at networking than at humorous scriptwriting. As is obvious from the stars who appear in the film and Eric's constant name-dropping on the DVD commentary, he has known many of the top stars in the pop business. The improvisational star of the video is really Mick Jagger, lying through his teeth, and as Eric cleverly points out, giving away far too much about his true feelings towards the Beatles and women. The other star is Neil Innes, for his song-writing and his Lennon impersonation.
One of the best decisions that Idle took for the creation of this film was to play the pop videos pretty well straight, without trying to insert many jokes into the performance. Most of the opportunities for visual humour within a mimed pop video tend to be fairly Chaplinesque knockabout and don't last well for the tenth viewing. (Not that any of us expected in those pre-video days to be able to see programmes multiple times.) In those videos, Idle reveals himself as arch-copyist: so long as you change just a few actions or expressions, then copying the original Beatles films as closely as possible is the best way to let the humour in Innes' songs to shine through. Innes revealed in a radio interview at the time that his composing strategy was to take the original Lennon/McCartney tune and change as few notes as he could get away with, without being prosecuted for copyright theft. (No doubt Harrison, with his subsequent experience of being sued for stealing the tune of the Chiffons' 'He's So Fine' for 'My Sweet Lord', could have helped him here!)
Eric reveals that he's writing a new Rutles documentary, though it's hard to believe it will be as good as this one. Presumably the one-legged Leggy Mountbatten returns to Britain in response to the teacher shortage, announces that he is no longer quite the man he once was, and gets engaged to Dirk. Stig sits at home in his fortress, having become a vigilante. When he's not waiting with his nuclear arsenal for the next attempted break-in, he's busy inventing new media formats (beyond CD and DVD) to enable yet more re-releases of Rutles' material. Nasty can only be contacted via e-mail; he runs an Internet Web site which dispenses multi-faith blessings and online tea at reasonably exorbitant prices. And Barry has sold his chain of hair salons to present a weekly radio show for the over-60s; he also does the voice-over for a series of sex education videos.
The problem is that too much tragedy has crept into the Beatles' lives in the past quarter-century for it to be made fun of. Awareness of personal tragedy may be the key reason why many comedians who hit the big time in their 20s gradually become less funny as they get older and their loved ones die.
But 'All You Need is Cash' is Idle at his post-Python zenith, not quite in his 20s, but close enough. I much appreciate the arrival of this film on DVD and can only lament the fact that I had to visit the US to buy it. This is a region-1 only DVD, so those of us in region-X will need to run it on our PCs or multi-region players.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on December 25, 2004
Still surprisingly effective and the template for its far more popular and successful successor, "This is Spinal Tap", "All You Need is Cash" is its own magical mystery tour... a bizarre journey through the Beatles' story that twists & turns between the inspired and the downright silly but which, in the end, gets you there.
First off, Eric Idle's opening narration leaves you feeling that you're on some kind of second-rate Monty Python jaunt but, pretty soon thereafter, you hit the first of Neil Innes' brilliantly written and performed pastiches of Beatles' songs and things get much more impressive. And, from here on, it's a roller-coaster ride through some hilariously good and other, fairly weak re-workings of the Fab Four's career including brilliant send-ups of "Magical Mystery Tour", the Apple Corps debacle, "Yellow Submarine" and the "Get Back" rooftop session. But what makes this whole weird & wonderful ride hang together is the music... inspired, "tongue in cheek" gems that are so good that it's often difficult to remember they're not in fact original Beatles recordings. And, finally, the DVD's additional "deleted scenes" from the film's interviews with Mick Jagger & Paul Simon add fascinating insights into how The Beatles impacted on them while providing some wonderfully unintentional entertainment as they both struggle to remember that they should be talking about "The Rutles" rather than the real thing.
But what makes the film really interesting is that it's much closer to the reality of what actually went on than you may think. George Harrison's involvement as an actor in it, coupled with his close association with Eric Idle and the Monty Python team suggests that a great deal of "insider knowledge" was involved... how much remains a mystery in itself but the hand of someone "in the know" is most definitely there, making this flawed but highly entertaining film more than just an enjoyable spoof.