Cinema Review: Walking on Sunshine | Under The Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Thursday, September 23rd, 2021  

Walking on Sunshine

Studio: eOne
Directed by Max Giwa and Dania Pasquini

Jun 30, 2015 Web Exclusive
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There are a couple of problems inherent to the jukebox musical -– the kind that’s music has been previously released and is, typically, well-known, like Moulin Rouge! or Mamma Mia! and Singin’ in the Rain –- and they are these. First, enjoyment of the musical, film or otherwise, is pretty much contingent on the enjoyment of the music and less so on the narrative, which is often sidelined in favor of playing with said music (exceptions being aforementioned Moulin Rouge! and, to some degree, Across the Universe). Second, when one is too familiar with the music used, one is prone to comparing versions, again perhaps affecting enjoyment of the film. Enter Walking on Sunshine,

Walking on Sunshine takes a perfectly adequate, if predictable, storyline –- Taylor finds out that her sister, Maddie, is marrying the man she fell for on a “Holiday” (groan) some years ago -– and milks it for all it’s worth using a bunch of pop songs from the ‘80s. The bar for this film is relatively low: a fun musical! With songs your parents probably love!

Perhaps the film’s biggest issue, despite the title and the effort, is nothing really registers. It is, for lack of a better word, rather bland. While the music cues become groan-worthy and cringe-inducing (Maddie’s ex vies for her love again using “Don’t You Want Me, Baby,” and I barely rolled my eyes at that point) and the vocals impressively weak (save for Leona Lewis in a minor role), the film’s biggest crime, perhaps, is that it’s ineffectual.

What Moulin Rouge! and Across the Universe do correctly by the jukebox musical is craft the songs not only so that they have a symbiotic relationship with the story itself, but arrange them, musically speaking, so that they fit the context: The Police’s “Roxanne” becomes a dance with trust and intimacy as “El Tango de Roxanne” in the former, and The Beatles’ “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” becomes an anthemic testimony from Big Brother himself, commenting on the draft and Vietnam. But every track in Walking on Sunshine, even its title song, is played straight, to its detriment. It’s the Glee-ification of the musical, but worse (even Glee was daring from time to time): each song only presented for its most surface level reasons, refusing to actually appropriate the song. Walking on Sunshine ends up being weirdly tuneless.

Author rating: 3/10

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