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The Rutles 2: Can’t Buy Me Lunch (A Music Video Review)


Starring Eric Idle, Neil Innes, Ricky Fataar, David Bowie, Billy Connolly, Carrie Fisher, Jewel Kilcher, Steve Martin, Mike Nichols, Conan O'Brien, Salman Rushdie, Garry Shandling, Robin Williams, April Adams, Clint Black, Jimmy Fallon, Tom Hanks, Bill Murray, Graham Nash, Kevin Nealon, Catherine O'Hara, Jim Piddock, Bonnie Raitt, David A. Stewart, James Taylor and Jann Wenner.

Screenplay by Eric Idle.

Directed by Eric Idle.

Distributed by Warner Home Video. 84 minutes. Rated PG-13.


Imitation is often described as the sincerest form of flattery. Back in the late 70's, Monty Python member Eric Idle conceived a new parody project which poked fun at the expense of The Beatles. They were called The Rutles. Featuring spot-on Beatlesque music penned by ex-Bonzo Dog band member, Neil Innes, The Rutles: All You Need Is Cash was an affectionate and hilarious revisiting of the Beatles story. Beatle George Harrison was such a fan of the project that he took part in the filming and appeared in the original show as a TV reporter. John Lennon and Ringo Starr, meanwhile, were also reportedly fans of All You Need Is Cash. At the time of its original TV airing on NBC, the show polarized Beatle fans, some loved it while others felt it savaged the legacy of their Liverpudlian heroes. Meanwhile, the Rutles White Album homage, "Cheese And Onions," (featured in the show and on the album soundtrack) was performed in the mid-70's by Innes on Saturday Night Live and even fooled the most ardent Beatle fans, appearing years later on a Beatles bootleg where it was being foisted as a legitimate unreleased track. Now more than 25 years later, Rutles creative mastermind, Eric Idle, revisits the "legend that will last a lifetime" saga of Dirk McQuickly, Stig O'Hara, Barry Wom and Ron Nasty in The Rutles 2: Can't Buy Me Lunch (Warner Home Video). With Idle cast once again as the intrepid and bumbling host Melvin Hall, this new DVD recounts the colorful and humorous "Tragical History Tour" of the zany Pre-Fab Four by deftly interspersing newly shot footage punctuated by revelatory outtakes purloined from The Rutles: All You Need Is Cash film. Adding to the unabashed Rutlemania on display, the DVD also features special appearances by a flurry of celebrities paying homage to the legacy of these four lads from Rutland including Mick Jagger, David Bowie, Bonnie Raitt, Jewel, Tom Hanks, Steve Martin, Jimmy Fallon, Robin Williams, Bill Murray, Conan O'Brien, Billy Connolly, and more. Like the acclaimed mockumentary This Is Spinal Tap, The Rutles 2: Can't Buy Me Lunch walks a fine line between homage, shameless mimicry and biting critical commentary. The footage featuring the band filming their trio of movies, A Hard Days Rut, Ouch! and Let It Rot, respectively and departure of Rutles manager, Leggy Mountbatten from the group are among the numerous irreverent tongue-in-cheek delights. Special mention should also be made about the wonderfully authentic sounding music heard in the special written by Neil Innes. Indeed, Innes brilliantly captures the innocence, frivolity and inherent complexity of Beatles music. Throughout the show, Innes' music cleverly and lovingly reconfigures that of the Four Lads From Liverpool to create his own impressive batch of aural gems that could legitimately stand on their own as lost Beatle classics with a comedic lyrical twist. Lending a little help from his friends and musical comrades in arms is Ricky Fataar (who is cast as Stig O'Hara), best known for his long-time work with Bonnie Raitt and The Beach Boys and drummer John Halsey (who plays Barry Wom). Such songs as "Questionnaire," "Back in '64," "Easy Listening," "Major Happy's Up And Coming Once Upon A Good Time Band," "Knicker Elastic King," "We've Arrived (And To Prove It We're Here," "Eine Kleine Middle Klasse Musik", "Lonely-Phobia" are among the songs culled from the Rutles second album, 1996's "Archaeology" that wonderfully augment the wacky on-camera hijinks. The DVD also includes a bounty of extras including an alternate ending, Melvin Hall outtakes and over 25 minutes of additional celebrity interviews. While a new wave of Rutlemania may not be in the cards, this legend will most certainly last a lifetime. The Rutles 2: Can't Buy Me Lunch is a worthy companion piece to the widely revered All You Need Is Cash film. This is essential viewing for all self-respecting music and pop culture aficionado. (3/05)

Ken Sharp

Copyright ©2005 All rights reserved. Posted: March 25, 2005.

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