Blu-ray Review: “The Commitments” 25th Anniversary Edition

Starring: Robert Arkins, Michael Aherne and Angeline Ball
Directed by: Alan Parker
Number of discs: 1
Rating: R
Studio: RLJ Entertainment
DVD Release Date: August 30, 2016
Run Time: 118 mins

Film: 4 out of 5 stars
Blu-ray: 4 out of 5 stars
Extras: 4 out of 5 stars

Can it really be 25 years since that rowdy group of musicians from Dublin, Ireland that called themselves The Commitments first burst upon the scene? Sadly (for me anyway) yes it has.

The film tells the story of Jimmy Rabbitte (Arkins), a young man who longs to be a successful music manager. Check that. Jimmy wants to be the next Brian Epstein. He’s had some hits and misses but he’s set his sights on putting together the greatest soul band ever created. He holds auditions at his home, asking each aspiring performer what their musical influences are. Rest assured, the ones that answer “Barry Manilow” or even Ireland’s own U2 do not get invited in. Eventually he puts together a band that was, to quote “Duck” Dunn in “The Blues Brothers,” “powerful enough to turn goat piss into gasoline.”

Of course, as things begin to go well for the group they also go bad. Infighting, bruised egos and the fact they aren’t making money begins to get to everyone. Finally, they book a major gig and are told that Wilson Pickett, who is currently touring Ireland, will join them on stage. But can the group stay together for that crucial show?

Directed by the great Alan Parker, who surely knows his way around music having directed “Fame,” “Pink Floyd The Wall” and “Evita” among other films, “The Commitments” is full of young musicians with both talent and drive. The only familiar face in the cast is Colm Meaney, who plays Jimmy’s father, an Elvis man true and true. Music fans may also recognize Glen Hansard who, in 2008, co-wrote the Academy Award winning Best Song “Falling Slowly” from the film “ONCE.” In 2012 he co-wrote the words and music for the Broadway musical version of “ONCE,” which won the Tony Award that year for Best Musical. Ironically, Hansard was not nominated for his musical score. “The Commitments” earned an Oscar nomination for Best Editing and swept the BAFTA’s, winning four awards, including Best Picture and Best Director.

The extras on the disc are also pretty impressive and include a commentary by director Parker and a look back with the cast. What amazed me the most was that Andrew Strong, who plays the groups lead singer, was only 16 years old when cast.

If it’s been 25 years since you saw “The Commitments,” I urge you to see it again. If you haven’t seen it yet….what are you waiting for?