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Commitments, the


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An irresistible, comic drama from director Alan Parker (Evita, Mississippi Burning), overflowing and alive with passion, humor, and music, The Commitments showcases some old R&B standards in a new light. A headstrong, fast-talking, ambitious young Dubliner (Robert Arkins) fancies himself a promoter of talent, and sets about assembling and packaging a local Irish R&B band. His group of self-absorbed, backbiting, but stunningly talented individuals begin to succeed beyond his wildest dreams, until petty jealousies and recrimination threaten to scuttle the whole deal. A moody, vivid, and soulful exploration of the Dublin club scene as well as a showcase for some wonderful unknown actors, the film (and its wonderful soundtrack) also features the actual band covering classic soul tunes from the likes of Otis Redding and Sam and Dave. It's that combination of soul and soul music that makes The Commitments a special little film. --Robert Lane

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4.1 out of 5 stars

Most helpful customer reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By David A. Riley on May 26 2004
Format: DVD
Alan Parker once again put together a previously unknown cast and has produced a fantastic movie with some stellar individual performances.
"The Commitments" is the story of the struggle to escape unemployment and poverty, set in Dublin but equally relevant in any major city this movie chronicles the efforts of a new band to achieve fame and glory. The band choose soul music as their vehicle out of the ghetto at a time when James Brown is just a memory adding spice to an already engaging tale. After a faltering start the band start to pull it together only for their lack of discipline and focus to abort their chances at the very moment when real opportunity is at their door.
The music is the star of the show with fantastic numbers such as "At the Midnight Hour", "Mustang Sally" and "Try a Little Tenderness" littered through the movie. The musical performances of Mary Doyle Kennedy (Natalie)and Andrew Strong (Deco)and the acting of Robert Arkins (Jimmy) are really superb.
This movie is enhanced by this new format on widescreen DVD, but what makes it work is the screenplay, great acting and wonderfull music regardless of format.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Andy Wierling on Aug. 20 2003
Format: DVD
One of the better movies you've probably never heard of... The music is simply outstanding, but with or without the music, the movie itself is excellent. Very funny, although I had a bit of a hard time at first with the accents (my shortcoming, I'm sure)... I would have given it 5 stars, but unfortunately, the DVD is atrocious - full frame, horrible picture, no 5.1 re-mix, and no extras to speak of... We need this movie done right !
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Mitchell A. Nieto on June 16 2003
Format: DVD
This is perhaps one of the greatest music-themed movies ever made. You will find yourself spellbound at the talent and energy these first-time actors bring to this film. Lead singer Andrew Strong was only sixteen years old when this film was made, yet he has a voice which sounds like its seen a world of pain. Twentieth Century Fox has taken a diamond and smashed it to bits by not offering this DVD in a widescreen format (with DTS stereo). It could be a reference DVD if done properly. Maybe the Criterion folks will do it. Until then, don't bother with the full-screen version.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By M. Casarino on May 19 2004
Format: DVD
"The Commitments" is a raucous and joyful celebration of music. It's a gloriously simple and lovable tale, told with passion, profanity, and a deep understanding of how music can infect even the most despairing life with joy. About time the movie got its proper release on DVD.
If you've never seen "The Commitments" because you cringe at the notion of white Dubliners singing American soul tunes, well, I hear ya. I fully expected watered-down music along the lines of Michael Bolton butchering Percy Sledge. However, I was wrong - the music, in the context of the movie, is pure and genuine, and performed by young actors who understand that you don't have to pretend to be anything you're not to get soul. Besides, Jimmy Rabbitte, the mastermind behind the band, gives them all a thoroughly convincing speech that assures the lads and lasses from Dublin that they, too, are qualified to sing soul.
The movie - well, it's wonderful. Hilarious, free, sometimes moving, life-affirming. I almost wish the movie let the characters develop a little more before the inevitable and mythical ending, but then Joey the Lips gently reminds me (and Rabbitte), "this way, it's poetry." He's right - this is the proper ending for these guys, and the movie.
The DVD offers some great extras, including a revealing making-of doc, where we learn that director Parker combed the nightclubs of Dublin nightly, looking for fresh talent. I also love the 10-years-later feature, where we get to revisit our old friends again. These are suitable extras for a movie that just plain makes you feel glad to be alive - how much more can you ask of a movie than that?
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Jason A. Miller on March 27 2004
Format: DVD
"The Commitments" still works for me, even though I haven't seen it in over a decade, since the night I turned 20. I watched it twice yesterday, during the long Amtrak haul from Boston South Station to New York Penn, the second time with the Alan Parker commentary switched on. The young woman who got on at New Rochelle and sat next to me for the last hour of the ride, watched over my shoulder and, without the benefit of earphones, started laughing at every joke or sight gag. Now it's a rare rock-and-roll band movie that works without sound! But that's the power packed by "The Commitments", a movie with as much soul as its soundtrack.
This was the movie that took over my life in college, sophomore year. I rented the VHS from Blockbuster (how quaint!) in late 1992, at the end of the one semester in my life where I hardly had any finals. This is back in the days when you only had one VCR in every dorm. So we ended up with about 20 people watching (many of whom had already seen it before) and we all rocked out. I ended up watching it nearly a dozen times over the next year, and pretty much wore out the two soundtrack cassettes by the time I'd graduated.
The movie hasn't lost any punch in the decade since I set it aside. The music is still electrifying, Andrew Strong's voice still an incredibly powerful instrument. The offstage interludes have, if anything, become even more relevant for me since then. At age 19 I didn't know anything about urban blight or housing projects, or what the movie was even about, really. In what has to be a reversal of the way these things usually go, I can identify with the characters more now that I'm a decade older than they were.
The direction is a huge asset.
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