Decades after its release, Alan Parker's joyous film is still filled with musical excitement, memorable characters, hilarious comedy, and a heartfelt portrayal of working-class Dublin. The performances are uniformly excellent, often incomparable. The music, with 16-year-old Andrew Strong's indelible role as lead singer, soars. Actor/musicians Angeline Ball, Bronaugh Gallagher, Maria Doyle Kennedy, Glen Hansard, Felim Gormley, Johnny Murphy, and Michael Aherne are among the standouts. The Commitments (which is based on the book by Roddy Doyle) is a complete package: writing, directing, editing, cinematography, and all the production arts in top form. Parker has managed to give depth to the film's many characters, situations, and emotional upheavals.
For those who enjoyed the movie in the early 1990s, the film retains its magic. New viewers, even those not familiar with the classic soul sounds it recreates, are in for a real treat. The pervasive use of harsh language (it has been calculated that there are 169 instances of "f--k") may make this inappropriate for many kids, but it will simply be part of the tapestry of the film for others. It's interesting to note that Glen Hansard, who plays red-headed guitarist "Outspan Foster," is the composer and star of Once, a lauded Irish film from 2007. And director Parker was noted for giving smaller roles to those who auditioned for his movie but didn't make the final cut. Highly recommended for mature teens and up.