Just Imagine - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Just Imagine Reviews

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Super Reviewer
September 10, 2015
The thing about sci-fi, predicting how technology will change our lives, hindsight being 20/20, is that it all looks so easy, like not so much of a thing, but its harder than it looks and here is a work in particular that proves that point exactly. A hackneyed convolution of cornball and greasy charm, they've literally thrown in everything and the kitchen sink in this look into the crystal ball. First they go back, 50 years back, before 1930, and are wistful about those halcyon days of yore. "Things were simpler then ..." Then we plunge into the future where all the architecture, interior design, and even the furniture is art deco (yeah, it looks old now, but when they made it, when it was hot, it was supposed to be "THE FUTURE!"). The government controls everything, folks have numbers instead of names and they eat little pills instead of real meals.
Now there's a typical story here as well about boy gets girl, but it's of little importance beside the extravagances of speculation of what life will be like in the future. And its a musical too. Interesting about the film is not what they got wrong (and they do that easily 75% of the time) but what and how our grandparents, our great grandparents, and our great-great grandparents dreamed about what was to come. Some of the fantasies are wild and nutty, but most retain significant parts of the culture of their time, like they knew things were gonna change but kept their dreaming in a way they could still understand so that it didn't get far away from them. In one scene people blithely stand mere feet away from a rocket taking off. One central character is not only Jewish, but Jewish played for laffs no less (Woody Allen's Sleeper was only 43 years away), implying that in the future, in 50 years, racial hatred would be done away with (and this hope for the future only a couple of years away from the Holocaust) I loved this movie for that quality. On its own, its pretty hokey now, but at one time somebody saw this and was amazed at what the future could be like.
April 21, 2015
Two words to describe this film would be "camp" and "conservative."

The SFX are excellent for 1930, the music is decent and the writing can either be solid or silly. The acting all belongs in a film set in 1930. The wardrobe is just contemporary wares made askew; they hardly tried.

Of course, the film is also outdated. The film's poor view of women was archaic by the time of its release. Even though technology has advanced considerably, scientists have no sense of ethics, e.g. threatening to kill subjects for asking questions. As for stereotypes, Jews control [the aviation] business, the only job an Irishman can get is "street cop", and gays are sissy maries.

A strange entry from early Hollywood.
½ October 7, 2014
Um passeio pela imaginação sobre o futuro no início do século XX.
August 8, 2014
If you're into the Orwellian futuristic concepts, you'll dig this movie. If you're into the history of film, you'll also dig this movie, for this is a perfect example of how filmmakers had a bit of a bumpy road transitioning from silent to sound. But aside from that, it's not very good. The acting, script and songs are 100% real corn, the best visuals taken from Fritz Lang and Georges Melies, and the production value mismanaged.
October 23, 2013
What "Just Imagine" lacked in acting and plot, it made up for in art direction. Three years after Metropolis, its art deco city scapes anticipate the Flash Gordon / Buck Rogers serials, while the Martian set resembles an Emerald City prototype for The Wizard of Oz and the dancing girls anticipate Busby Berkeley. The film's influence can be seen in Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow and the Chaotica episodes of Star Trek Voyager. For SF historians, a fascinating film.
July 15, 2013
I Like Science Fiction Films.
½ November 20, 2012
1930 makes wild predictions about the future,1980, in this obscure sci-fi musical comedy that pairs space missions and flying cars with Prohibition.
January 26, 2010
This film is difficult to rate. It is a science fiction musical comedy. It is badly written. The acting is so so. The dialog is sappy. The music, except for one piece, is pretty bad. The special effects are okay. However it is an important film and the patina of age has given it a certain charm. The movie was made in 1930 imagining what the world would be like in 1980. The predicted future is a mildly dystopic one that no one questions. There are bits in this that seem to have inspired bits of Flash Gordon, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Star Wars and Sleeper. I finally got this on DVD but it was obviously made from a well used print. It would be nice if 20th Century Fox would produce a restored version of this with sufficient extras to put it in its historical context. Either that or turn it over to Kino or Criterion. I think in its historical context this film is at least as important as Metropolis.
(Edit)
I watched it again recently. Between the last time I watched it and this time I watched some of Méliès' short films. I can see where some of this film may have been inspired by Méliès's work, particularly the fact that it has musical numbers in it. Though the Méliès films were silent many of them had dance numbers incorporated in them.Either that or the action was so well timed and choreographed that it seemed like dancing.
June 20, 2009
Very imaginative, but as it turned out, the filmmaker?s depiction of 1980 was quite inaccurate! Quite bizarre really. There aren?t too many classic sci-fi musicals out there! It?s certainly worth a look.
June 20, 2009
Very imaginative, but as it turned out, the filmmaker?s depiction of 1980 was quite inaccurate! Quite bizarre really. There aren?t too many classic sci-fi musicals out there! It?s certainly worth a look.
December 11, 2008
My favorite.

A science fiction trip to mars in 1980 that is a musical! This is a must see absurd - trip if you can find a copy. Lovely, art deco sets. Futuristic guesses about the 80s ala 1930, including the hand dryer, the video phone, and the pill instead of dinner. And of course, everybody has their own airplane! Great pre-code fun.
½ July 12, 2004
JUST IMAGINE is a tale of the far-flung future, where people travel in personal airplanes, everyone is given a number instead of a name, marriages are arranged by the government and musical numbers burst forth every ten minutes or so. Yes, it's 1980, and star-crossed lovers J-21 and LN-18 (played by a 19-year-old Maureen O'Sullivan) are trying to get married. But LN-18 has been forcibly betrothed to another, and J-21 has been deemed not important enough to marry her.

Trying to figure a way out of their fate, they join friends D-6 and RT-42 (apparently there's less than 67,600 people on Earth--that's the only way this number system would work) at an important scientific event where a group od professors bring back a man who's been dead for fifty years. The man, once among the living once more, is promptly dismissed by the scientists and the gang takes him under their wing. The man calls himself "single zero," speaks with a swedish (?) accent and promptly gets drunk off of a bunch of pills.

Soon, J-21's problems are solved when he's randomly chosen to fly the first airplane to Mars, which would result in his stature in the city being increased. D-6 and Single Zero join him and the world and their respective love interests await their return....

Then things get [i]really[/i] silly.

JUST IMAGINE is an amazing science fiction melodrama musical comedy with vaudeville numbers, pre-code humor, a reference to Henry Ford's anti-semitism, hairy gorilla monsters, a musical number dedicated to drinking, prohibition jokes, Martians with evil twins, a gay joke, great sets and alien royalty systems straight out of a jungle goddess movie. In short, a fascinating timepiece that's so horribly dated that it gets a new kind of charm.

Sure, some of the musical numbers are kind of... well, painful, but "The Drinking Song" has moved into my permanent roster of great movie musical bits. The melodrama is tiresome at times as well, an unfortunate side effect of being a film made before they discovered that mixing wildly different film genres didn't work too well. And the plot will hurt your head if you think about it.

If you just go along for the ride, however, JUST IMAGINE is a jaw-dropping treat from the REEFER MADNESS era in which they manage to get just about every prediction of the future so horribly wrong you can't believe your eyes. The acting is as fine as you'd expect so close to the silent era, though El Brendel (playing Single Zero) is more vaudevillian than actor. (He also turned up in Corman's SHE CREATURE decades later!)

Sadly, it's never been released on video, but it's a great reason to get the Fox Movie Channel. Still, I'd love to see a remastered version of this without the scratches and with decent sound and a crisper picture. Someone get on this! I command it!
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