Scaramouch, Scaramouch will you do the Fandango? by J.R. O'Donnell


I watched Bohemian Rhapsody the way it was meant to be seen: from across an airplane aisle on someone else’s subtitled screen two rows ahead of me.

I was immediately offput by Rami Malek’s prosthetic teeth which seemed less a reflection of Freddie Mercury’s real-life chompers and more like something thrown from a Mardi Gras float but aesthetic nitpicks aside what really got to me was the morality play aspect of the movie, and I’ve seen Tyler Perry’s Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor enough times to recognize when that happens. Mercury is portrayed as a truly talented artist but also a petulant child who gets too big for his britches, dumps his cool bandmates who are nothing but sane, calm voices of reason, then parties nonstop and is punished with AIDS before crawling back to his cool bandmates who are nothing but sane, calm voices of reason to beg them to take him back which, being the selfless, Christlike people they are, they do out of a sense of charity both towards Mercury and the starving citizenry of East Africa. Of course in reality most of Live Aid’s proceeds went to gun purchases by Ethiopia’s government, a junta responsible for up to 2 million deaths that was led by a man found in absentia guilty of genocide. But Queen sung ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ at a concert, everyone loves that song!

The editing is terrible, the dialogue dreck, and the inevitable musical cues laughable: when Mercury is betrayed by a confidant while outdoors in a rainstorm ‘Under Pressure’ starts to blast. The band had near unlimited input into the film and it shows in their characters’ saintliness and complicated relationship to Freddie Mercury, the only member of Queen that people care about. Originally they had wanted Mercury to die halfway through the movie, and now they want to make a sequel picking up immediately after Live Aid and Freddie’s death. Best of luck to the astrophysicist guitarist and the two ciphers no one can name.

This is a fun movie to riff on, it’s truly execrable, and it’s utterly befuddling how many awards it picked up until one realizes that the Baby Boomers who still make up most of the awards voters will latch on to any cultural product that reminds them of their youth no matter how much schmaltz is involved.