In suburban Sheffield, England, 16-year-old Jamie wants nothing more than to be a drag queen. But Amazon Prime’s new musical adapted from the West End stage show doesn’t have much else going on. Don’t worry, though, because they did sprinkle in daddy and school bully issues for flavor.
Jamie is also a terrible person. His desire is intriguing enough, but as the first number states, he believes he’s “going to be the one.” This vague, Disney Channel-esqe dream seems to give him authority to be cruel, often attacking people for being average (AKA not wanting to be famous).
Like any fantasy film worth the time, any musical universe needs rules, hence the importance of what an opening number can and should establish. Merely singing isn’t enough—that’s how you can tell Jamie isn’t particularly interested in its musical medium. It really wants to linger in its high school and parental melodrama, only remembering at the last moment that singing is required.
As such, the songs are an amalgam of weak vocal prowess and even weaker lyrics and melodies that seemingly establish already apparent mood and plot beats. There’s temptation to skip through most of the numbers, too, since characters tend to pretty much just sit and sing. Sometimes, bravely, they walk and sing, which leaves Jamie crying for high energy editing that doesn’t come. The editing room was either uninspired and/or vastly underpaid and perhaps wanted to move along to a better project.
Yet beyond this, what infuriated me the most about Everyone’s Talking About Jamie is how it associates authenticity with fame—that the only reward for being true to yourself is the adoration of others. In other words, to be a successful queer, you’ve got to be successfully noticed. Being authentic with yourself and with gender-bending norms is a wonderful thing—so why isn’t that enough here?
+ Richard E. Grant gives us something decent
- Bad message; bad musicality; bland everything
Everyone’s Talking About Jamie
Directed by Jonathan Butterell
With Harwood, Sarah Lancashire and Richard E. Grant
Amazon Prime, PG-13, 115 min