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  • Nate Adams

Review: Musical adaptation 'Everybody's Talking About Jamie' doesn't pop

Courtesy of Amazon Prime


Inspired by a delightful true story and adapted from the musical of the same name by creator Jonathan Butterell, “Everybody’s Talking About Jamie” has all the ingredients for a wonderful time at the movies. An inclusive, wholly encompassing message about gender identity and never being afraid of showcasing your true colors, a diverse cast of up and comers, including a star-is-born debut from Max Harwood. But this cliched riddled and conventional musical set-piece lacks the soundtrack or energy to leave a noteworthy impression. Each song (music and lyrics were carried over from the original production by Dan Gillespie Sells and Tom MacRae) contains a frustrating combination of forgettable melodies and lackluster musical accompaniment.

“Everybody’s Talking About Jamie” is a film I was eager to champion and appreciate, and I’m glad it exists for those interested in the drag scene, but it’s shocking how chaotic and uninteresting half the movie is. Outside of the unremarkable music, there’s dicey subplots about characters nobody cares about, including a boring school bully and Jamie’s traditional father (Ralph Ineson) who, of course, wants nothing to do with his son’s “fruity” aspirations. The cinematography occasionally lightens the mood and several transitions and sequences earn praise, but the entirety of Jamie’s struggles are wrapped in such a glossy, manipulative bow, no amount of cheery song and dance could salvage a ho-hum outcome with so-so performances.

Based in part on the documentary “Jamie: Drag Queen at 16,” “Everybody’s Talking About Jamie” creates a fictionalized version of the real-life Jamie Campbell, known in the film as Jamie New, played with style and the correct amount of flamboyant sassiness by Harwood. Jamie has big plans for the small minded high school he attends in Sheffield, England and with the support of his nurturing mother, Margaret (Sarah Lanchashire), wants to attend prom in full drag, complete with the pair of stunning red heels gifted to him on his birthday.

Of course, Jamie faces numerous obstacles and hurdles, including a hostile English teacher, played by Sharon Horgan, whose sole purpose is to infringe on his journey of self reflection, offering minimal words of encouragement; as well as nameless students who will boycott prom if Jamie is allowed to express himself. Richard E Grant gets a fine supporting turn playing the owner of a local drag shop and mentor to young Jamie who gives him a shot in a nearby drag queen show, but it's not enough to keep the narrative, as inclusive and important as it is, afloat. It’s hard to disavow a film where the lead performance never falters, and as a whole, “Everybody’s Talking About Jamie” offers valuable insight into the world of drag queens, but at the end of the day, there’s not much worth discussing, musically, and therein lies the problem.

Grade: C-

EVERYBODY’S TALKING ABOUT JAMIE is now playing in select theaters and debuts on Prime Video, September 17th.


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