What You Need To Know:
(LLL, VV, S, A/D, Ab, M) 194 obscenities, 23 profanities & swearing on Bible; fist fighting, violent brawls & whacking man on head with garbage can; audible off-camera fornication, seduction, sexual gestures; hypocrisy, Christian band member portrayed as gigolo, Mariolatry and worship of Elvis Presley (Exodus 34:14).
Committing themselves to be “The Saviors of Soul,” a group of young Irish working stiffs form THE COMMITMENTS to vocalize the passion of soul while neglecting the Spirit in this synchronic vignette of modern Dublin ravaged by the economic failure of socialism.
Managing the band is Jimmy Rabbitte, a young, unemployed, music lover, who puts out a newspaper advertisement to attract local talent. He brings together seven guys (Deco, Mickah, Outspan, Dean, Joey, Derek, & Steven) and three girls (Amelda, Natalie & Bernie) to form a soul band, whom he names THE COMMITMENTS. Jimmy tells them that the Irish are “the Blacks of Europe” and the Dubliners are “the Blacks of Ireland,” so they should have soul.
One band member, “Joey-the-Lips,” feels called of God to perform with the group. Joey implies his trumpet playing may quiet the strife between Ireland’s Catholics and Protestants: “The Lord told me the Dublin brothers needed some soul. The sad Irish wouldn’t be shoving the a—- off each other if they had soul.”
Boasting of his previous performances with B.B. King, Otis Redding, Joe Tex and others, Joey is a pony-tailed, middle-aged musician who sports a cross earring, saber-tooth necklace and a Jesse Jackson t-shirt underneath his leopard-imprinted vest. Professing to be a Christian, Joey seduces all three of the female band members, bedding each one. Learning of his escapades, the band regards the inconsistency between his faith and actions, yet concludes “soul music is sex, isn’t it?”
Herein lies THE COMMITMENTS’ problem: the band’s soulish passion is not matched with justice. They trek to various night spots, voicing their gutsy, vivacious sounds in hopes of gaining a recording contract. However, their “soul” has no spirit. They strive to become the passionate voice of the people but lack the virtue to do so. Basically, their passionate love is without repentance, and so it only leads to their eventual downfall.
What THE COMMITMENTS need to do is be true to their name. As Psalm 37:5 admonishes: “Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and he shall bring it to pass. He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday.”
However, the movie does show how a lack of commitment will unravel even the most talented group. And, this group is talented, making music that thrills the night club audiences in the movie as well as the audience watching the film.
It is noteworthy that director Alan Parker has portrayed Christians with great respect in previous movies. Perhaps the characterization of “Joey-the-Lips” is not a deliberate attempt to portray Christians as hypocrites, but a mere reflection of the Hollywood mindset that sleeping around is an inevitable part of life. The director’s ignorance about Christianity doesn’t excuse Joey’s demeanor, however.
Also annoying are the references to Elvis Presley as god, as well as several religious affectations which would alienate evangelical Christians. Added to these offenses is rampant use of a four-letter word that begins with “F,” which peppers every other word of the movie’s dialogue.
Overall, these flaws detract from the THE COMMITMENTS’ intriguing portrait of Irish living. Quite different from the American way of life, the film provides glimpses into Dublin’s culture, including Irish expressions, style, customs, architecture, and the socialist blight which has wasted Ireland.