More Jukebox musical movies for the Mamma Mia fan

It is apparently a fact (I can't remember where I read this so don't take my word for it) that something like one in three people in the UK have Mamma Mia on DVD. And that's not difficult to believe. It's cheesy, the script is flimsy, but God, Abba have some cracking tunes and the film is in-escapeably feel-good. I went to see the sequel at the weekend and I'm already looking forward to going again. (Contrary to my previous belief, they did not use up all the good songs in the first one.) However, if you can't find anyone to drag there for a second time, why not try one of these to fill that Mamma Mia shaped hole?

The best thing about a jukebox musical is that you don't have to worry whether the songs will be good or not - you already know the songs, and if you don't, someone else does and they know they're decent, else why make a musical based around them? Yes, the stories are usually cobbled together, implausible and weak, but if you're smiling when the credits come up, who actually cares?

Walking on Sunshine

What's on the jukebox? Joyful pop hits of the eighties including, 'Faith' 'Girls Just Wanna Have Fun' 'Wake me up before you go-go', and obviously the title track. 
Who's singing? A cast of young, English un-knowns, plus Katy Brand (the comedienne) Greg Wise (a.k.a Willoughby from Sense and Sensibility) Leona Lewis and one incredibly beautiful Italian man.
Pros The closest thing to Mamma Mia feel-good you're going to get.
Cons It's trying way too hard to be Mamma Mia.
Highlight? Greg Wise's rendition of Faith - with a Ukelele.

Sunshine on Leith

What's on the Jukebox? Hits from Scottish Folk/rock duo The Proclaimers. '500 Miles', 'I'm on my way' 'Letter to America' and lots of other great songs I'd not heard before.
Who's singing? An up-and-coming young cast of Scots and English and a more established older generation including Jane Horrucks. 
Pros The songs, the spirit, plus a relate-able story and realistic, likeable characters.
Cons Its not always as sunny as its title. Seems it's grim up North (of the border)... when they're not singing that is. 
Highlight? 'Make your heart fly'  - a lovely little duet between the second lead couple.

The Blues Brothers

What's on the jukebox? 'Rhythm and blues' classics including 'Gimme Some Lovin', 'Jailhouse Rock' and 'Everbody needs somebody to Love'.
Who's Singing? The Blues brothers - characters first created by John Belushi and Dan Ackroyd for an on-going Saturday Night Live sketch.
Pros It's fun, feelgood, and has cross-generational appeal. 
Cons It's looking a bit dated nowadays.
Highlight? When they win over the honky-tonk crowd... with the theme from Rawhide.

Rock of Ages

What's on the jukebox? Mostly eighties classics Rock.
Who's singing? Julianne Hough, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Alec Baldwin, Malin Ackerman, Tom Cruise, Mary J. Blige, Russell Brand.
Pros The songs, the look, the cast.
Cons There's a thinly veiled undercurrent of misogyny that made me very uncomfortable.
Highlight? The 'We Built this City/We're not Gonna Take it' mash-up, where Catherine Zeta Jones's placard waving complainants clash with Russel Brand's Rockers in the streets.

Moulin Rouge

What's on the jukebox? A real mix, including Madonna, Nirvana, Elton John, Rogers and Hammerstein, Queen, David Bowie and also an original, 'Come What May'.
Who's Singing? Nicole Kidman, Jim Broadbent and - heart-stoppingly - Ewan McGregor.
Pros There are some brilliant musical numbers and Ewan McGregor really is lovely when he sings.
Cons The rest of it is all over the place, and as much as I like his voice, I hate the character of Christian. Unpopular opinion, but I think he's immature and much too quick to play the victim.
Highlights? The 'Elephant Love Song Medley' and 'Roxanne' re-envisioned as an Argentine Tango.  

Across the Universe

What's on the Jukebox? The biggest hits of the Beatles and some lesser known ones too - if there is such thing.
Who's singing? Evan Rachel Wood, Jim Sturgess (with a scouse accent) and a young ensemble cast who don't seem to have broken out like the leads did.
Pros The songs are all done in a new and original way and the cast do them justice. If you didn't rate the Beatles before, you might once you've been re-introduced.
Cons Although it starts off well it's much too long, and descends into a weird acid trip about halfway through.
Highlight? Evan Rachel Wood's plaintive version of 'If I Fell' and an amazing gospel version of 'Let it Be' set amid the Detroit riots. 

Happy Feet

What's on the jukebox? A mix again - Prince, Stevie Wonder, Elvis and some more modern dance-y stuff.
Who's singing? Brittany Murphy, Hugh Jackman, Nicole Kidman, Robin Williams!
Pros Weird, wonderful and surprisingly intense.
Cons Maybe a bit too intense...the plot is quite dark in places. Also it's much too long.
Highlight? The Boogie Wonderland scene! Genuinely gave me goosebumps when I saw it at the cinema.


What's on the jukebox? Classics young and old, from 'My Way' to 'Shake it Off'.
Who's singing? Taron Egerton, Jennifer Hudson, Reese Witherspoon, Seth McFarlane, Scarlett Johanssen, John C. Reilly.
Pros Okay, so I've only seen the very end of this one. But it looked like something I should go back and watch from the beginning. Just fun and up-lifting and the song list looks fab.
Highlight? I've only seen the finale - that was pretty good!

What's your favourite jukebox musical?


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