Yesterday Parent Guide
Fun music, fine acting, and positive messages about honesty and integrity - if you can ignore the plot holes.
Parent Movie Review
Celebrity agent Debra (Kate McKinnon) is trying to sign up the latest musical phenom, Jack Malik (Himesh Patel) by offering him “the great and glorious poisoned chalice of money and fame.” That chalice is even more toxic than Debra realizes: it comes with a heaping dose of guilt and deceit. And Jack isn’t sure if he can swallow it, however badly he might want it.
Jack has taken a long and winding road to instant success. The former teacher works part-time in a big box warehouse store so he can have the space to write songs and perform at the venues arranged by his devoted best friend and manager, Ellie (Lily James). His best efforts are met with polite disinterest. But Jack’s world changes when a power outage sweeps the world and he gets hit by a bus. Jack wakes up in the hospital with a bruised face, two missing teeth, and what he soon discovers is the opportunity of a lifetime. Apparently, he’s now the only person in the world who remembers The Beatles. When he performs their songs, Jack becomes a superstar. But fame is a hard day’s night for Jack. His conscience is tearing him apart and it looks like he’s lost the girl he loves.
You don’t have to try very hard to figure out what the main message of this movie is: it’s all about honesty, integrity, and the price of success. Patel’s expressive face switches between uncertainty, guilt, and anguish as he struggles to keep up the façade of brilliant songwriter. But pretending to be someone he’s not is excruciating and starts to erode both his self respect and his relationships with those around him. With this shadow hanging over him, Jack is forced to consider his priorities and what he really needs to be happy.
Yesterday also delivers positive messages about friendship and loyalty but carries some negative content. There is no smoking – cigarettes don’t exist in Jack’s new world – but there is lots and lots of alcohol. It is consumed in almost every social situation and main characters get drunk several times. On one occasion, this almost leads to sex. There is also a scene of implied sexual activity between unmarried adults.
In addition to the negative content, there are some plot holes audiences will need to overlook. The first one viewers will wonder about is how on earth Ellie got friend-zoned. This is such a head-scratcher that even Jack’s feckless sidekick (Joel Fry) asks about it. And there are bigger questions: for instance, how did popular music develop without the influence of the Beatles? How could contemporary music remain unchanged without the profound musical legacy of the Fab Four? Viewers might also wonder about the absence of lawyers - who would otherwise significantly influence the story’s ending. Jack’s fame involves an enormous amount of money and lawyers cluster around money like crazed fan girls at a Beatles concert. Their absence is impossible to explain away. But, then, in a world without Coca-Cola, maybe there are no lawyers either. (Imagine there’s no lawyers, it’s easy if you try…)
Plot issues aside, there is plenty to enjoy in this pleasant comic drama. The acting is solid, with Kate McKinnon standing out as the wickedly witty, cuttingly cynical Debra. The characters are sweet and appealing. The music is fabulous. And the film’s hopeful message can’t be beat – when we find ourselves in times of trouble, “there will be an answer, let it be.”Directed by Danny Boyle. Starring Himesh Patel, Lily James, Kate McKinnon. Running time: 112 minutes. Theatrical release June 28, 2019. Updated July 8, 2019
Watch the trailer for Yesterday
Rating & Content Info
Why is Yesterday rated PG-13? Yesterday is rated PG-13 by the MPAA for suggestive content and language.
Violence: A bicyclist gets hit by a bus. He is shown in hospital with a bloody face and missing teeth.
Sexual Content: A minor character refers to “making sweet love” to a woman. Two main characters embrace on several occasions. There is mention of “shagging”. A man and woman almost have sex while intoxicated. An unmarried man and woman embrace passionately, they then fall on her bed together. Sexual activity is implied.
Profanity: There are approximately 20 terms of deity and mild profanities in this movie. A sexual expletive is muffled.
Alcohol / Drug Use: There is lots of social drinking amongst all characters. Main characters get drunk on a couple of occasions; one incident almost leads to sexual activity. A character asks for Coke; people think he means cocaine.
Page last updated July 8, 2019
Yesterday Parents' Guide
Jack struggled with his decision to plagiarize the Beatles’ music. Why do you think he made that decision? Do you think he made the right choice? What would you have done in his place?
The Beatles wrote some of the most famous and beloved music in the world. What do you think makes their music so memorable? What are your favorite Beatles songs? Why?
Loved this movie? Try these books…
If you want to learn more about the Beatles, read Philip Norman’s Shout! The Beatles in Their Generation. For stories about every Beatles song, you will want to find Mark Lewisohn’s The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions: The Official Story of the Abbey Road Songs. Beatlemania is described in Love Me Do! The Beatles’ Progress by Michael Braun.
If you want to play the Fab Four’s music, try The Beatles Sheet Music Collection, which contains piano, vocal and guitar for 100 pieces. The Beatles Fakebook: C Edition contains basic chord information for 200 of the Beatles’ greatest hits.
Related home video titles:
If you’re interested in movies about musicians, you can watch Bohemian Rhapsody. This musical biopic tells the story of Freddie Mercury and the band Queen.
In School of Rock, a wannabe musician will do anything to win the Battle of the Bands – even pose as a schoolteacher.