As most schoolboys will confirm the wearing of your coat using only the hood on your head and then running round the playground with your coat billowing out behind you in cape style before you biffed another kid shouting, ‘Take That!’ as you did so was something of a rite of passage which you soon grew out of unless you’re our editor in which case he wears his pants over his trousers claiming that he is Superman which is all very well but doing so in the middle of Tesco’s only gets him sectioned (‘You’re fired!’ – Ed). But Take That are the inspiration for Greatest Days a musical film adapted from the stage play .
Written by Tim Firth the film centres of five schoolgirl friends in the 1990’s who like most others are obsessed with pop music of the day. The band in question are not Gary Barlow et al but instead a five piece from central casting looking like a pound shop Take That who appear in intervals throughout the film as the girls sing Take That songs. It all comes to a head when they get five get tickets to see the band in concert and like every 16 year old gets dolled up, downing sneaky shots of alcohol before they scream their heads off at the concert like a frustrated Brooklyn Beckham trying to do the numbers round on Countdown. The nostalgia for everyone’s schooldays where solace is found in the music of the favourite band is convincingly played and this aspect of the story acts as a series of flashbacks to a now grown up cast led by Aisling Bea as Rachel, a paediatric nurse who wins a local radio competition to see The Band’ in a reunion tour in Athens.
But life has inevitably seen the friends drift apart as they leave school, and find careers and in some cases start a family which inevitably takes over their lives and the devastation of a tragic episode after the concert has never really healed. Rachel’s reluctance sees her only contact her friends at the last moment where they meet at the airport before flying out. It’s that scene at the airport which doesn’t convince, having not seen one another in years there’s little sense of joy amongst them seeing one another after so many years. So as they all set off the to see their favourite band from their school days their grief and grievances soon begin to surface over the tragedy that they have been carrying for all those years.
The adult cast led by Aisling Bea are uniformly good and their younger cast who play them as schoolgirls are equally convincing and the film successfully captures those dreams that we have for our future that often contrasts sharply with where we find ourselves years later and it’s what makes the film extremely relatable. There’s a decent supporting cast too with the always good Marc Wootton as Rachel’s long term boyfriend eager to marry being the stand out. And yes Take That do have a small cameo although only as their current three piece incarnation.
Directed by Coky Giedroyc, elder sister of Mel, the musical numbers are not as strong with perhaps an early sequence in a kitchen being the best and a cheesy climatic end scene that is, at times oddly framed, with Rachel, the films lead, being stuck over in far right of frame rather than front and centre as the friends stand beside each other belting out one of Take That’s hits. As a summer film Greatest Days is ideal and captures the mood of those sunny school days and whilst this might not Rule the World it does, in part, Shine.
related feature: What’s missing from The Muppet Christmas Carol ?
Here’s the Greatest Days trailer…….