Starring: Dick Van Dyke, Janet Leigh, Ann-Margret
Director: George Sidney
Running Time: 112 mins
Bye Bye Birdie is an American film about a hit rock singer who, after being drafted into the war, gives one farewell performance where he will kiss his biggest fan on TV.
A delightful, vibrant film filled with energy, great music, wonderful dancing and an all-star cast, Bye Bye Birdie is an utter joy to watch from start to finish. It may not be the world’s most enthralling movie musical, but it does the job of putting a big smile on your face more than well enough.
There’s a lot to love about Bye Bye Birdie, but it’s the musical numbers which really make the film sing. Featuring a couple of well-known classics and a collection of other delightful tunes, the film’s use of music only makes it more joyful – exactly what I love to see from a classic Hollywood musical.
With gorgeous, colourful visuals in the film’s costume and production design along with wonderful dance choreography, every musical number is a real joy to watch, and even though relatively few advance the story immensely, they really add to the movie’s fun atmosphere.
Another big part of what makes Bye Bye Birdie so fun is its cast, all of whom are just as delightful as the music. A-listers Dick Van Dyke and Janet Leigh prove the level-headed core of the action, while the young Ann-Margret and a number of other supporting players bring a dazzling youthful energy to the table.
Along with the film’s colourful and vibrant energy, there’s something about it which really fits the hip, youthful zip of the rock-and-roll singer at the centre of its story. With clear parallels to Elvis Presley and the rock-and-roll generation, the film really captures the essence of a generation on the rise, and its conflicts with elders who don’t always seem to get what they’re all about.
That conflict makes for a few fun moments (as well as a great song), although it never really plays into the film’s story in a particularly engrossing way. The generation gap is certainly a major theme here, but it’s overshadowed by a simpler romance story between a collection of players that isn’t quite as interesting.
Saying that, the film’s uplifting and bright-eyed charm means that it’s a delight to watch all the same, even if it never quite manages to tell the world’s most gripping story. So, that’s why I’m giving Bye Bye Birdie a 7.3 overall.