It‘s either good or bad. Unfortunately, there isn’t any in-between when it comes to stage adaptions. That’s why there was a mix of excitement and trepidation when I initially heard they were adapting the musical Everybody’s Talking About Jamie into a movie musical.
The film follows 16-year-old Jamie New, who dreams of becoming a drag artist and wearing a dress to his high school prom. He’s taken under the wing of a former drag queen played by Richard E Grant and is effectively a coming-of-age story about being yourself and accepting other people for who they are and who they want to be.
The film uses the change in format to its advantage, adapting already incredible sets and choreography onto film and going beyond the limits of the stage. Making full use of the medium, it is less High School Musical and more akin to that of Rocketman in some scenes, making full use of the medium it has found itself in.
The same can’t be said for the section between songs. These suffer many of the same issues as the show with incredibly wooden dialogue and performances, most likely from the weak script. It’s a bummer coming off the extraordinary highs of the musical numbers.
Then you have the additions – we replace the show tune-like ballad of Loco Chanel (Grant’s drag persona) with a new, more poppy song that plays out as a small vignette of her time on the scene in the 80s and 90s. It’s the best sequence in the film by a mile. Showcasing the incredible triumphs and heartbreaking lows the entire community went through during that time. It will leave you speechless. I am sure.
It was initially to be released in October 2020 but then plans changed due to the pandemic. It’s now in the hands of Amazon and to be released on Prime Video in September, killing any hope of a cinema release. A shame. Seeing this movie with an audience was an incredible experience (especially at a gala screening at the festival theatre). The audience cheered, laughed loudly, and clapped for a long time after the film had finished. There was a feeling of electricity that I’ve only experienced in the same place over a year ago, seeing the touring production of the same musical on stage.
In that way, it did its job and then some. It managed to replicate an experience of electricity and do justice to the stage production. That’s all you can really ask of with adaptions. Many of the flaws I also had with the show transfer over, but that doesn’t matter. It was uplifting with a tremendous celebratory attitude. A great experience I’ll not forget in a hurry. It’s one you’ll want to watch with a big group of people on the big screen. See it.
Everbody’s Talking About Jamie is on Amazon Prime Video worldwide on September 17th