Like its many characters, Against the Universe is clearly against war of any kind, and this is conveyed, at times, with great creativity.  Its message is also summed up in the final song: “All You Need Is Love.”  Ah, but if only that were true. 

Still, it isn’t as bad as you might expect.  Director Julie Taymor (Titus and the Broadway version of The Lion King) has definitely stepped out of the box with these cinematic theatrics, which some will no doubt enjoy.  Think Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band meets television’s The ‘60s—with a tablespoon of Hair, a teaspoon of Xanadu and a dash of Forrest Gump

If you’re looking for a straightforward narrative—and musicals aren’t your thing—you’ll want to bypass this one.  But if you’re a big Beatles fan and love all things ‘60s, this is definitely worth the trip.  Goo goo g’joob.

DVD EXTRAS:

  • Commentary with director Julie Taymor
  • Trailers

CAUTIONS:

  • Drugs/Alcohol:  Characters smoke, drink, use drugs, and get drunk and high throughout the film.  Many scenes are “acid trips” seen through the perspective of hallucinogenic drugs.
  • Language/Profanity:  A handful of mostly mild profanities and obscenities.
  • Sexual Content/Nudity:  Couples kiss and gyrate in various scenes; teenage girl becomes sexually involved with a young man, including several scenes in which they are intimate (e.g. nude beneath the covers together); in one scene, the young woman sleeps in the nude, exposing a bare breast; in another, the couple are intimate while underwater (full side nudity); in another, full frontal nude characters float by (genitalia appear to be painted over); several nude women float in water as if dead, with visible (though painted over) genitalia; a teenage girls lusts after another teenage girl then later, a 40-something woman (relationship is unreciprocated).
  • Violence:  College boys break a window then flee, as others chase on foot; numerous war protest scenes which become violent; street riots which kill a young boy, who is later mourned during a funeral scene in church; soldiers kill and are killed in Vietnam; white-painted actresses fall into the water than float as if dead; war protesters are scene making bombs; later, the headlines declare that they were killed when the bombs exploded; edited war footage of bombs being dropped and napalm explosions.