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Yesterday

Movie review by
Joyce Slaton, Common Sense Media
Yesterday Movie Poster Image
Sweet romance, some swearing in appealing comedy/fantasy.
  • PG-13
  • 2019
  • 116 minutes
Parents recommendPopular with kids

Parents say

age 12+
Based on 14 reviews

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 24 reviews

We think this movie stands out for:

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Themes of courage, integrity predominate, with characters making choices because they're morally correct -- even though they're also sometimes uncomfortable and inconvenient. That said, main character also gets ahead based on a deception (which he's conflicted about).

Positive Role Models & Representations

Jack's iffy actions are easy to understand: Few people could resist unlimited fame and money, particularly if they're unlikely to get caught in a lie. Jack's parents are supportive and loving. Jack and Ellie have a genuine friendship. Ellie shows integrity when she refuses to accompany Jack to America to work on his music because it would let down her students. Jack and Ellie's friends are thoughtful and kind, coming to Jack's performances, letting a friend crash on their couch when he's between jobs. Jack is played by an English actor of Indian descent; his ethnicity is never mentioned. 

Violence

Only one scene is violent: the early one in which Jack is hit by a bus. The bus hits his bike, and he flies into the air; there's a terrible thud when he lands. Viewers see his bruised, battered face and broken teeth (camera zooms in on the teeth and then the holes where the teeth were). 

Sex

Jack and Ellie share a loyal, long friendship before they decide they have romantic feelings for each other. They kiss and fall into bed; the camera then cuts away to Jack shirtless in front of a window. A couple agrees not to have sex because they want to have a relationship, not just a "one-night stand." 

Language

Infrequent cursing includes "s--t," "son of a bitch," "ass," "hell," "goddamn." Some language has an English slant: "bloody," "shag." A cut off "motherf---." 

Consumerism

Promotes Ed Sheeran and the Beatles/their songs.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Adults drink at parties and gatherings; in one scene, they drink to excess in order to give themselves courage to get physical with each other. People who've been drinking say too much and are sloppy. A running gag confuses "coke" (cocaine) with Coke (the drink). 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Yesterday is a comedy with fantasy elements about a musician named Jack (Himesh Patel) who, after an accident, wakes up to a world in which the Beatles never existed -- and all their hit songs can be his. The movie's levels of sex, violence, and language are appropriate for teen viewers, making this a good choice for cross-generational viewing. Violence is limited to an early scene in which Jack is hit by a bus (and the aftermath, in which viewers repeatedly see him with broken and missing teeth). Characters kiss and fall into bed together in a couple of scenes, but there's no sex. A sweet romance builds over time between well-drawn characters who both have agency; it stalls at one point because they agree they don't want to start a romance if they aren't ready for it to get serious. Adults drink at parties and celebratory moments; at one point, two characters decide to get drunk so they can find the courage to kiss. Language is infrequent but includes "s--t," "son of a bitch," "damn," and "bloody." The cast is diverse in terms of race, ethnicity, and class, with both women and people of color in strong central roles. And characters are thoughtful and respectful; they make mistakes but make up for them and do better, sending clear messages of integrity and courage. 

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bypath2thenorth June 28, 2019

great feel good movie

we took our 10 year old to see it. There is a scene where two of the characters are drinking (no one does anything stupid), one that alludes to sex (a jacket co... Continue reading
Adult Written byCCCK June 28, 2019

Parents beware

Very pronounced GD and long awkward moment discussing if they would sleep together. Of course the music is wonderful but definitely better hearing the Beatles.... Continue reading
Kid, 10 years old August 1, 2019

Extraordinary

This movie is amazing I loved It there is some language such as use of “son of a b###h” and “ass” they frequently use “sh#t” as well as shot in England they use... Continue reading
Teen, 17 years old Written bymusic lover 123 July 4, 2019

Amazing

Was really good a bit of sexuality such as kissing falling into bed together etc lots of swearing and some violence such as getting hit by a bus and some alcoho... Continue reading

What's the story?

YESTERDAY, Jack Malik (Himesh Patel) was a struggling singer-songwriter who played music that nobody really liked, except for his loyal best friend and manager, Ellie (Lily James). But then Jack gets hit by a bus at the exact same time as a mysterious global blackout. When he returns to consciousness, it's to a world in which the Beatles never existed: Only Jack remembers their songs. He starts performing the Fab Four's hits as his, and he leapfrogs to success thanks to the backing of Ed Sheeran and new power-hungry manager Debra Hammer (Kate McKinnon), leaving Ellie out in the cold. But is it really success if, deep down, all the adulation doesn't make Jack feel truly happy -- or deserving? 

Is it any good?

With a high-concept premise that could skew either cute or pretty stupid, this easygoing fantasy romcom sticks the landing overall. Patel can actually sing -- he capably performs almost every Beatles song in the movie (from "Let It Be" to "Back in the U.S.S.R.") -- and he's both sweet and relatable. So much so that it would be almost painful to watch him struggle onstage at the beginning of the movie if you didn't know exactly where the story was going. Since you do, the indignities visited on him have a kind of pre-Wonka Charlie Bucket shine, with suffering bearable as a prelude to wild success. 

The light touch that Yesterday gives to Jack's rags-to-riches journey is carried forth throughout the entire movie -- nothing's too intense or harsh. The romance between Jack and Ellie is affectionate and gentle; Jack's parents wander through, alternately hugging their son and looking for snacks; the worst thing that the movie's only villain manages to do is tell Jack he's unattractive. At one point, two romantic rivals even resolve their differences with a friendly handshake. It feels like all the rough edges have been sanded off, which isn't an insult: Yesterday is a lot of fun. But you also won't be surprised to find out that the film was scripted by Richard Curtis (he of the similarly mild and enjoyable films Love Actually, Bridget Jones's Diary, and Notting Hill) and directed by Danny Boyle with a Slumdog Millionaire air. If any of those movies are on your faves list, put this one in the "must watch" queue. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about romantic comedies. What does Yesterday have in common with other films in the genre? How does it break the mold? Is it typical in romcoms that two characters who are clearly meant to be together have something that keeps them apart until the end? What's the "something" here? Is it believable?

  • What messages does this movie send about success and fame? Do those things make Jack happy? Why or why not? What does the movie imply is the source of his true happiness? 

  • How does Jack's resolution to his dilemma demonstrate integrity and courage? Why are these important character strengths?

Movie details

Character Strengths

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Themes & Topics

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For kids who love music and romcoms

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