The year is 1964 and Beatlemania has hit America. I Wanna Hold Your Hand reflects the excitement of avid Beatles fans in New York City during the weekend that the Beatles first appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show.
Nancy Allen, Theresa Saldana, and Wendie Jo Sperber play three teenage friends who concoct a plan to see the Beatles in their hotel prior to the Ed Sullivan telecast. They enlist a fellow classmate, played by Mark McClure, to drive them in his father's limousine to the Beatles' hotel. Along the way, other teens join the group,. These include Bobby DiCicco, Susan Kendall Newman, and Eddie Deezen. Of course, when the group arrives at the hotel, there are hordes of screaming teens outside who are being held back by police barricades. Naturally, these determined kids find a way to get inside the hotel and begin their quest to find John, Paul, George, and Ringo.
I Wanna Hold Your Hand was the first feature film directed by Robert Zemeckis. Zemeckis shows early talent; he has a great eye for entertaining visuals. The movie is a farce, and I find it is rare for farce to be successfully sustained throughout a film. My theory for this is that farce usually necessitates that the actors give broad, scenery-chewing performances. These can be funny for a while but in the duration of the film, they usually become flat or tiresome. It's a good thing that I Wanna Hold Your Hand has so many characters because a little screen time for most of them goes a long way. The most successful performance is by Sperber as a hyper Paul-obsessed fan. The movie winds up at The Ed Sullivan Show where most of the teens finally get to see the Beatles perform.
I Wanna Hold Your Hand is a fun comedy, though it is too shrill at times. However the tone that Zemeckis achieves fits with the craze that followed the Beatles when they first arrived in America. One of my earliest childhood memories of television was seeing one of the Beatles' performances on the Sullivan show. I remember the teenage girls acting pretty much like they were portrayed in this film. Grade: B.
Fun Fact: Will Jordan plays Ed Sullivan, and Jordan practically built a career out of being an Ed Sullivan impersonator.
I watched I Wanna Hold Your Hand on DVD with my aunt on January 12, 2013.