Yellow Submarine

1968

Yellow Submarine

Critics Consensus

A joyful, phantasmagoric blend of colorful animation and the music of the Beatles, Yellow Submarine is delightful (and occasionally melancholy) family fare.

97%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 59

84%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 47,777
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Movie Info

Yellow Submarine is an animated meandering journey filled with puns and dry British humor, where psychedelic music videos take precedent over any linear story. What little there is of a plot, however, concerns a vibrantly colored place called Pepperland that resembles the album cover for Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band come to life. The swirling animation is a mixture of pop-culture images and modern artistic styles brought loosely together with a naïve antiwar message and some clever political commentary. The Blue Meanies take over Pepperland, draining it of all its color and music, firing anti-music missiles, bonking people with green apples, and turning the inhabitants to stone by way of the pointed finger of a giant white glove. As the only survivor, the Lord Admiral escapes in the yellow submarine and goes to London to enlist the help of the Beatles (voiced by actors). The charming and innocent boys travel through strange worlds and meet bizarre characters, including the tagalong Nowhere Man. Several blissed-filled musical sequences and drug references later, the Beatles drive out the Blue Meanies and restore Pepperland to tranquility armed with only music, love, and witty remarks. ~ Andrea LeVasseur, Rovi

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Cast

Paul Angelis
as Ringo/Chief Blue Meanie
Dick Emery
as Lord Mayor/Nowhere Man/Max
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Critic Reviews for Yellow Submarine

All Critics (59) | Top Critics (13) | Fresh (57) | Rotten (2)

Audience Reviews for Yellow Submarine

  • Jun 27, 2013
    "We all live in a yellow submarine, yellow submarine, yellow submarine! We all live in a yellow submarine, yellow submarine, yellow submarine!" Hey, the Beatles may have been thoroughly entertaining and justly respected musical innovators with a good taste in melodies, but they weren't especially creative lyricists, except when it came to putting together colorful characters and stories, and even then, you can tell that they slam-banged the "story" of the album this film is based on. I guess it doesn't matter what kind of dope the Beatles were on when they came up with this album, because you know that it was going to be a hit, much like this film, because when I think of following up the "Magical Mystery Tour" film with a hallucinatory, crudely animated cartoon interpretation of a Beatles album about psychedelic shenanigans in a yellow submarine, I think of success on every level. Shoot, sarcasm aside, this thing didn't cost but, like, just one children's matinee movie ticket... or an actual yellow submarine (I'm not saying that there's a big difference between real life and the celebrity world, but a film that cost £250,000 is dirt-cheap), so right there is another point that shows you that the makers of this film clearly cared about this project that would, of course, need to be well-made in order to be a cash cow. Of course, then again, "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" will tell you that the Beatles' name being attached to something doesn't always spell financial success for a film, so this film couldn't afford to be too lazy, and sure enough, much like the album it's named after, this film is a possible product of slapdashing that works enough to be quite enjoyable. Still, while you can expect to fine plenty of fun and games with this film... especially when you're higher than the Space Shuttle, this trippy opus does indeed trip up is some places in a not especially groovy way. Whether it be because of the limitations of the time or because of some kind of stylistic choice, this film features very crudely done animations, and sure, I would consider them something of a strength, as they have a certain colorfulness that I'll touch more upon later, yet after a while, you're bound to get to certain points where it's too difficult to get over the flaws of the animations, whose lack of life proves to be distancing, like the fluffiness that, unlike the animation's liveliness, gets to be too abundant for its own good. The film is restrained enough to turn in plenty of effective bits of humor that most anyone can attach to as compliments to the entertainment value that never slips too far from the final product, but make no mistake, this is a bit of a kiddy film, and much too often, you're firmly reminded by all of the fluff's getting carried away and becoming just downright cheesy, sometimes to a slightly embarrassing extend, and consistently to an extent that may prove rather awkward for grown-ups. The film is ultimately fun for all ages, but when it starts to aim at the general audience, those in the wake are bound to be thrown off by all of the cheesiness that reflects a bit of laziness within the final product, though not as much as the issues in, well, substance. Hey, this is a family fluff piece, and that is some high-grade vanilla right there, so I am by no means asking for much, but it's nice to have some meat on a fluff piece's bones, and you shouldn't expect much of that with this film, which offers no real character development and slapdashes things so much that you end up with a slam-banged plot that doesn't have much going for it, and is hurt worse by the structuring aspects that are anything but hurried. Padding is arguably at its worse during the musical numbers, which are very rarely backed by a progression of the narrative, just psychedelic imagery that meanders along, waiting for the song to end, and while moments such as those may very well be the ones that halt momentum in the harshest way, filler is crowbarred in all over the place, so much so that it ends up driving the film about as much as anything, thus thinning out plotting even further until, before too long, focus ends up dead on its feet. Again, this is simply a piece of fluffy filler, and it gets enough right as an entertainer to be genuinely likable, but the film is so unfocused and, at times, overstylized as a perhaps intentionally flawed animation piece and psychedelic musical that the final product almost collapses into dismissible mediocrity, and certainly collapses into underwhelmingness. Whether it be by design or whatever, this film is a mess, and you have to go in prepared for that, because if you're willing to run with this aimless effort, I must admit, you will find a time that will be hard to remember afterwards, - especially if you experience it with either of the things that it is designed to be experienced with: kids you're just trying to shut up and, of course, a whole bunch of dope - but is still pretty enjoyable, partially because of a certain thing that you can always look forward to in a Beatles film: good music. Like I said, some of the Beatles' songs are misused during the musical numbers that simply back the tunes, not with storytelling, but with random imagery that blandly distances you too much from the unfocused film to stay all that attached to the music, and it doesn't help that more than a few of the songs are admittedly tainted by their own right, primarily by too much of that good old-fashioned Beatles cheesiness, so it's not like the film succeeds as a strong tribute to the Beatles' music with the flying that the film literally has plenty of to spare on a visual level (I'm not even epileptic and I thought that I was about to slip into a seizure sometimes), yet at the end of the day, it's hard to get too distanced from the Beatles, whose contributions to the film range from decent to strong, but keep consistent in delivering on musical entertainment value that is sustained when the numbers are broken up by actual "plot" with George Martin's delightfully colorful score. Musically, the film has a few mild misses, but hits time and again enough for the final product to be adequately successful as a showcase, if not visual interpretation of plenty of classic tunes by one of music's most legendary forces, and when it comes to the other artistic contributions, you can expect plenty to appreciate, or at least up to a point. Again, the animations of this film are quite crude, and whether that be intentional or not, it is bound to throw you off plenty of time, and yet, the look of this cartoon has just as great a tendency to engage you, having a certain uniqueness and dynamicity that add to the lively style behind plenty of trippy imagery. As surely as it is a decent musical piece, the film is a decent visual piece, whose animation shortcomings are compensated for enough by lively style to give you plenty of nifty visuals to drop acid to-I mean, enjoy as compliments to both entertainment value and, to a certain degree, "substance". There was never to be too much meat to this story about the Beatles going on a hallucinatory adventure to save a world of pure happiness from forces of pure meanness, and the thinness of this plot goes intensified by the narrative's being so driven by filler that the final product comes out mostly unfocused, yet through all of the storytelling problems, you can find a premise that is genuinely colorful, if pretty corny, with a potential for liveliness that goes brought to life reasonably successfully. The film features four writers and still comes out paper-thin, yet through all of the shortcomings within Lee Minoff's, Al Brodax's, Jack Mendelsohn's and Erich Segal's script, there is still enough wit to turn in high points in humor that range from amusing to very funny, or at least appear to be when delivered by thoroughly charismatic voice acting that further adds greatly to liveliness, much like George Dunning's direction, which keeps pacing brisk enough to keep entertainment value alive and well. Sure, there are lulls in Dunning's telling of this aimless non-story, and such moments really throw you off and leave you to meditate upon the many issues that all but drive the final product into mediocrity, yet doesn't succeed, because as sloppy as the film is, it works enough as a fluff piece to entertain you time and gain, even if it won't stick in your head quite as firmly as its catchy soundtrack. When it comes to surface back to reality, overly offputting moments within the crudely done animation style, overly cheesy spots and a lack of narrative focus - which goes assaulted by no real development and by dragging that goes established by anything from meandering musical numbers to an abundance of aimless filler - all but drown the final product in mediocrity, yet goes kept at bay enough by a good soundtrack and score, delightfully nifty visuals, and colorful premise that goes brought to life by witty writing, charismatic voice acting and lively direction for "Yellow Submarine" to stand as a fun and stylish interpretation of the Beatles' music, in spite of its many shortcomings. 2.5/5 - Fair
    Cameron J Super Reviewer
  • Nov 30, 2012
    Yellow Submarine is a strange film, no doubt about it. It had a checkered history from the very start, with the Beatles internal problems, lack of money, lack of script, and yet they managed to make a film that's, well, unique. It's almost like opening a time capsule to the era when almost anything that was experimental or different could make it to the screen, and I was glad when I heard that they had shelved plans for a remake in this decade, because it simply would have failed. As a film, it's a mixture of cultural images from the 1960's, drug culture hangover art, and music from one of the most influential bands of all time. What you get is a strange voyage from grungy 1960's London to the world of Pepperland, which is under siege from the Blue Meanies. You can read the symbolism of who these guys represent many ways. They can be seen as 'the establishment' of pinstriped soulless bankers and accountants, or hawkish, war supporters, or just weird creatures that hate music and art. Watching the film again now, it still seems relevant. We're still at war with hawkish politics and banks and prejudice and our basic liberties being threatened. It's colorful and the use of the music is kinda cool. Ultimately the forces of good and truth, aided by the Beatles, triumph over the Blue Meanies. You're never really sure what its all about, but its fun to watch.
    Mark K Super Reviewer
  • Oct 07, 2012
    The Beatles sail through surreal seas in a Yellow Submarine to save Pepperland from the anti-music Blue Meanies in this animated fantasy that blurs the line between fairy tale and acid flashback. A psychedelic pop-art version of a children's storybook, with the Beatles singing and punning their way through the rare quiet moments. The animation is anarchic, witty, and highly influential, and (besides a weak ending and weaker coda) the film's biggest downside may be that there's so much going on in absolutely every frame of the film that it's almost exhausting to watch!
    Greg S Super Reviewer
  • Sep 04, 2012
    A rare piece of brilliance that is no less than the best way to give tribute to the greatest musicians the world has ever known. Beyond beautiful.
    Maymay A Super Reviewer

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