By Charles Cassady Jr.,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Madcap, nonsensical romp with the Beatles.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
The Beatles are thoroughly laid-back and whimsical about their predicament, and always help out their mates. The cult members are politically incorrect racial stereotypes of Indians and Hindus, but most of the Anglo characters are exaggerated British types, too. The leading lady is a heroic rescuer-figure.
Violence & Scariness
Lots and lots of playful roughhouse-fighting, even escalating up to combat with tanks. Ringo (and others) are threatened continually with human sacrifice via a nasty Bowie knife, yet no blood is shed.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
One girl seen topless from the rear getting bathed. One background belly dancer.
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Products & Purchases
Products and tourist destinations, many from yesteryear. Of course, the Beatles' music itself is a product.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Brief verbal reference to "happiness pills." Of course, parts of the movie are borderline "trippy."
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this movie is replete with playful fighting and slapstick violence, including some "don't try this at home" moments, like when George clings to the roof of a speeding car. There's more than a little bit of insensitive racial/religious stereotyping in the villains, a bunch of (mostly Anglo) actors playing robed cult fanatics from India, but just about all the characters are cartoon caricatures, including the Beatles themselves.
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Where to Watch
Based on 2 parent reviews
Great music and silly '60's fun
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What's the Story?
The immortal rock-pop quartet the Beatles (John, Paul, George, and Ringo) star in this full-color, wild farce. It's never explained how, but drummer Ringo is the proud owner of a sacred giant ruby. A fanatical religious cult must sacrifice any human bearing the ring, and so they pursue the Beatles for most of the movie, setting bizarre traps in the Fab Four's gimmicky high-tech mansion, and even attacking them at safe havens like Buckingham Palace. Since the uncanny ring refuses to come off Ringo's finger, the lads consult a mad scientist. What do you know? He starts chasing Ringo as well, claiming that with the ring he and his doofus assistant can rule the world.
Is It Any Good?
From the same director (Richard Lester) as the Beatles' pitch-perfect screen debut A Hard Day's Night, this is a far less realistic comedy about a band on the run. The practically freeform plot, full of international-intrigue and "mod" vibes, typifies the James Bond 007 spoofs ubiquitous back then, maybe with a touch of embryonic Monty Python spirit. Of course, a handful of great Beatles songs on the soundtrack don't hurt either.
The plot has scant rhyme or reason, just a disconnected barrage of madcap pursuits and ambush episodes in scenic locations, with old-fashioned, random title cards ("Paul's Exciting Adventure on the Floor") in a childish narrative kids might actually follow better than adult viewers. A lot of the British-specific landmarks and topics -- references to the "brain drain" problem, and English Channel swimmers -- will go way over American viewers' heads, though.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about the appeal of the Beatles as characters, then and now. Do you think this film nails it just as well as A Hard Day's Night or other Beatles features and documentaries? Do you think Help! has stood the test of time? In its daft style-over-substance plot and imagery, does Help! seem like the ancestor of the MTV music video?
- In theaters: August 25, 1965
- On DVD or streaming: November 6, 2007
- Cast: George Harrison, John Lennon, Leo McKern, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr
- Director: Richard Lester
- Studio: Capitol
- Genre: Musical
- Run time: 100 minutes
- MPAA rating: G
- Last updated: February 28, 2022
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