The Only Way for Essex
With the end of school insight and university beckoning Jim MacLaine (David Essex) decides there must be more to life and quits. Running away from home he heads off to the Isle of Wight where he gets a job renting out deck chairs before then finding work at a holiday resort. Both are perfect for his sole concern which is picking up and bedding any woman or girl who he can charm with his good looks. But eventually Jim decides there must be more to life and returns home where he takes over the running of the family business and settles down. But it is only a matter of time before Jim's itchy feet get the better of him.
The one thing I didn't mention in that synopsis is "That'll Be the Day" is based in the 1950s, the era of "You've never had it so good". I will tell you now that makes "That'll Be the Day" a generation movie, the sort of drama which will appeal to those who can connect with the feelings which Jim felt during the 1950s. And whilst the storyline of a young man struggling to deal with what he is to do with life is still an issue facing teenagers it is hard to really appreciate Jim's sense of lost unless you experienced the 50s and what he went through.
But there is another side to "That'll Be the Day" and that can be wrapped up by saying its music connection as there are lots of little things which can add to its appeal. Firstly it is said that "That'll Be the Day" is loosely based on the younger years of John Lennon which makes it a movie for Beatles fans. That leads me to the 50s rock n roll soundtrack which even if you didn't experience the 50s certainly makes it enjoyable.
But there is another connection and alongside the lead performance from a young David Essex there are many recognizable names such as Ringo Starr, Billy Fury and Keith Moon. Whilst Essex's performance is engaging in a quiet way the rest of the performances from the musicians are solid but not spectacular. Yet the fact that they appear in the movie will of course appeal to their fans. The better performances come from the recognized actors such as Rosemary Leach as Jim's mother who hides her heartbreak of her son leaving home.
What this all boils down to is that if you were a teen during the 1950s, living in Britain then the chances are that "That'll Be the Day" might appeal. It might also appeal to those who are fans of the various musicians who appear especially David Essex. But for anyone else it is one of those generational movies which don't work so well watched out of context.