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Rutles 2: Can't Buy Me Lunch

The 1978 made-for-TV comedy The Rutles was a moment of sheer genius. Conceived, written, and co-directed by Eric Idle of "Monty Python's Flying Circus" fame, it was a sharp, snarky take on the cultural impact of The Beatles, following the career arc of the "Pre-Fab Four," Dirk, Stig, Nasty and Barry as they rose to the heights of musical fame and then, tragically, self-destructed. One of the first "mockumentaries," it satirized both the Beatles' enshrined image as rock's most beloved band and the very medium of the self-important rock-documentary itself. With deliciously funny and memorable songs by Neil Innes like "Ouch!" "Cheese and Onions" and "I Must Be in Love" that were so good that they ascended beyond mere parody and became classics in their own right, The Rutles remains hilarious, classic comedy. Twenty-four years after the fact, Eric Idle offers up The Rutles 2: Can't Buy Me Lunch (2002) and it's a terrible, stupid waste of time that's an insult to Rutles fans. Once an unparalleled writer and comedian, Idle in recent years has sunk to touring the U.S. and Europe to sing the songs he wrote several decades ago for Monty Python and to re-enact sketches from those halcyon days of his career, making it painfully apparent that he still desires the spotlight but has nothing new to say. The Rutles 2 illustrates this even further — an 84-minute regurgitation of everything that made the original Rutles TV production so good, it's nothing more than a compilation of clips from the original with some new, unfunny celebrity interviews added. Rutles fans have long dreamed of a follow-up, and Idle could have used his energies to create a genuinely funny and creative "where are they now" look back, but instead cut together a cheap, short video devoid of any of the pleasures that made the original such a joy to watch. More than a mere waste of talent and opportunity, this is a sad, sad testament to a once-brilliant artist's decline into fast-buck mediocrity. Warner's DVD is full-screen (1.33:1) and clean, with clear DD 2.0 stereo sound (English with French or English subtitles). There's additional, leftover footage of the unfunny interviews with the likes of Carrie Fisher, Jewel, and Bonnie Raitt; several outtakes of Idle; and an alternate clip-compilation ending. Keep-case.
—Dawn Taylor

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