I got a lot of good advice from good friends on this one, before I ever saw Julie Taymor’s homage to the Beatles and the Counterculture era, “Across the Universe.” Some thought it could be smacked down against “Tommy” or “Hair,” for obvious reasons. Or “I Am Sam,” because both films share a Moptop soundtrack. (Remember when mags like “Teen” and “Tiger Beat” called the Beatles “The Four Moptops?”) And I was sorely tempted, as I love that story of a retarded man’s struggle to retain custody of his young daughter, and count it as one of my all time favorite films. Even Forrest Gump” got a mention, because “Universe” resembles it in the way it offers snapshot glimpses of the same period in American culture.
But shortly into the viewing, I found myself recalling the movie version of “Rent,” because both films are ambitious yet flawed stories of a polyglot group of young people meeting during an explosive time in our history, easily becoming friends, and bursting into song at the slightest provocation. […]