It may surprise you to read that I am the exact target demographic for this biopic--not because of Brian Wilson, mind you, but because of John Cusack. If you sat in a theater in 1989 and watched John Cusack holding a boom box blasting In Your Eyes over his head in the rain, begging for Ione Skye to take him back, you know exactly what I mean. If you hung a poster of him in your bedroom, and imagined you were that bookish, socially awkward girl he couldn't live without, you know exactly what I mean. If you ever sat in the bushes outside his Chicago home holding a half-eaten sandwich you're fairly certain he threw away at O'Hare, while weeping uncontrollably...OK, maybe that was just me...but I digress.
Our story begins in the '60s, when The Beach Boys, guided by their front man, Brian Wilson (Paul Dano), are on the verge of becoming a sensation. Along with the accolades, Wilson experiences a heavy dose of personal drama; that, combined with a heavy dose of hallucinogens, leads to more than a decade of mental and emotional instability. In the '80s, Wilson (now played by John Cusack) is under the care of a draconian doctor, Eugene Landy (Paul Giamatti), when he meets Melissa Ledbetter (Elizabeth Banks); and with the true romantic cadence of The Beach Boys, Wilson finds his salvation.
This movie is great from start to finish, whether you're a fan of the music or not. Cusack delivers a stunning and fragile performance, and the rest of the cast is strong behind him. My only beef would be the casting of Elizabeth Banks, who lacks a certain depth the role requires. Other than that, it's two hours of great music and great acting. It's an 8.