The Rutles: All You Need Is Cash
Although its DVD reissue just happens to coincide with a best selling album of Beatles oldies, All You Need Is Cash isn’t a cash in on the Beatles’ ”1” as much as it is an essential companion. Monty Pythoner Eric Idle’s mock documentary parodies the Liverpool revolutionaries (via the story of the Rutles, the ”pre-Fab Four”) and the documentary format itself, much of it brilliantly. Pick any Beatle moment — their movies, albums, news events, gay manager — and Idle and song satirist/ costar Neil Innes send it up with an attention to detail that remains absolutely fab: ”Help!” becomes ”Ouch!,” ”I Am the Walrus” becomes ”Piggy in the Middle” (complete with exact simulation video), and Yoko becomes Chastity, a literal Nazi.
As the latter indicates, ”Cash”’s parodies are often brutal: The Paul character, Dirk (played by Idle), is reduced to warbling inane love songs to his new wife, while the ersatz George, Stig (Ricky Fataar), becomes an Air India stewardess once the Rutles disband. Innes’ John, a.k.a. Nasty, perfectly captures Lennon’s mix of sardonic wit and arrogance. (Among the extras on the DVD are outtakes from the fake ”interviews” Mick Jagger and Paul Simon contributed to the original; while not vital, the raw footage further reveals how much these Beatle peers got into the spirit.) As much as it tweaks the Beatle legend, ”Cash” is also unexpectedly poignant. Broadcast (on NBC) just as rock’s old guard was being overthrown by safety pinned punks, the movie is both a razor edged needling and a sweet homage to an era when love was indeed all anyone seemed to need.
The Rutles: All You Need is Cash