Odds are that if you’re reading this, you or one of your friends has attempted some kind of Paul McCartney impersonation at some point in their lives. The chances may be even better that, however limited that impression may be, it’s just as good as or even better than what a professional actor pulls off over the course of the misbegotten drama Two of Us.

This cringeworthy fanfiction, the third original movie produced by cable channel VH1, was loosely based on a curious piece of post-Beatle history. On April 24, 1976, Paul McCartney visited John Lennon’s New York City apartment and hung out with his former songwriting partner long enough to watch a broadcast of “Saturday Night Live” during which producer Lorne Michaels semi-jokingly offered the ex-Beatles $3000 to reunite on the show. Lennon, in one of his last interviews, told Playboy that the duo, after witnessing that offer, “almost went down to the studio, just as a gag.” But, Lennon continued, “we were actually too tired.”

It’s easy to hear Lennon’s inflection of “too tired,” which one can imagine he delivered with a shrug that, in his distinct weary timbre, sonorous enough to inspire an impersonation of your own. Unfortunately, Lennon’s fatigue opened up the door for well-meaning imaginations to run wild 20 years later, and the resulting debacle can be painful to watch even (and perhaps especially) for diehard fans.

Two of Us largely takes place in what is supposed to be an apartment in the fabled Dakota Apartments, and for the most part consists of long and at times strained conversations between McCartney and Lennon, the latter played by Jared Harris years before his stint on “Mad Men.” To his credit, Harris doesn’t really even try to attempt a Lennon impersonation. The script by Beatles fan and historian Mark Stanfield pretty much makes Lennon out to be a sourpuss.

This Lennon occasionally shows some concern for his young son, but a mean spirit dominates. As the duo is having dinner at a neighborhood restaurant, an elderly couple gingerly approaches their table, and the husband asks if Lennon could sing a few bars of “Yesterday” to his wife. Lennon at first seems to agree, but quickly suggests that the man puts on his wife’s wig and gets on his knees to “lick my lingam.”

What makes Two of Us even more frustrating is that it’s helmed by somebody well-acquainted with the Fab Four: Michael Lindsay-Hogg, who directed the 1970 documentary Let it Be. In the making of that project, some 55 hours of footage was shot, and Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson will be releasing his own edit of the material for a new Beatles documentary this year, and while a preview released late last year looks promising, that’s not to cast any aspersions on the original film. As anyone who’s seen the rooftop concert that closes Let it Be can attest, whatever bad feelings there may have been among the Beatles at that point, they still had a magical chemistry, even till the very end.

Sadly, that chemistry is nowhere in sight for Two of Us. Remarkably, reviews were not universally scathing. Critic Kevin McDonough wrote that, “in less talented hands,” the film “could have been an awful exercise in bad wigs and Liverpool accents. Instead, Lindsay-Hogg and first-time screenwriter Mark Stanfield have created a small masterpiece, a variation on My Dinner With Andre meets The Beatles.” This quote makes a friend wonder if Kevin McDonough had actually seen My Dinner with Andre. According to Quinn, McCartney himself enjoyed the movie.

Go ahead, listen to Macca if you want to; he comes off as the nice guy here. The Streaming Hell column is made for cinematic train-wrecks, and one can understand if this particular cultural nadir might arouse the viewer’s morbid fascination. For instance, knowing that in the middle of Two of Us, John and Paul, disguised as Peter Sellers, wander into Central Park and dance to a reggae band, you’d be curious, huh? Well, sometimes, it’s best not to smell that milk.

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