This is the only fictional live-action film Paul McCartney as solo artist truly stars in, and perhaps the ultimate vanity film. It is a musical about an unusually bad Day in the Life of a character loosely based on Paul McCartney—but the story continually shifts through different levels of reality.
When it came out in 1984, it was critically panned (Roger Ebert gave it one star) and commercially invisible. The reputation of the film has been ameliorated for fans of his by time; acceptance of Paul's Cover Versions of Beatles songs — it was considered sacrilege in 1984, but we're used to it now — and slow recognition that, while it violates Willing Suspension of Disbelief for most human beings to behave like the protagonist does, it is in character for someone based on Paul McCartney. Even if the screenwriter (possibly) gets humanity in general wrong, he cannot be completely out of characters writing a character loosely based on himself. Real Life incidents from the last decade or so suggest that he was closer to reality than he intended.
Director: Peter Wells. Since he was new to film, and since Paul is something of a Control Freak, it is uncertain how much directing Mr. Wells did.
Screenwriter: Paul McCartney.
- The Alleged Car: Tom the roadie's van.
- All Just a Dream: Paul falls asleep during a bad traffic jam, and then we get this movie.
- Analog Piracy Is Evil: Both played straight and subverted. The tape being stolen is a big deal, not just because of its causing problems for the legit release, but because there may be an illegit release. Paul himself gets along with Big Bob the bootlegger but doesn't want to do business with him...
- Anti-Hero: Paul.
- As Himself: Not just Paul, either. Everyone who plays an instrument or is seen messing with a recording console is playing who they are.
- As You Know: Complete with lampshading.
- Author Avatar: Paul. This is one reason why the film is of interest.
- Clear My Name: Our protagonist must clear both that of the employee who our protagonist gave the tape to, and himself for trusting that tape to that employee.
- Concept Video: "Silly Love Songs," and the "Eleanor Rigby/Eleanor's Dream" dream sequence.
- Contemptible Cover: Several versions.
- Cool Car: At least one, that Paul drives.
- Creator In-Joke: As noted in the Viewers Are Geniuses entry.
- Day in the Life: Specifically, 9 am to midnight.
- Deus ex Machina: Or pure luck.
- Disney Acid Sequence: On more than one level.
- Dream Within a Dream: Possibly even Dream within a Dream within a Dream.
- Establishing Character Moment: We first see Paul McCartney in the back seat of a limo that's stuck in traffic in the rain, dividing his time between writing lyrics and listening to the radio with an air of silent resignation. Even though this is one level of reality up from most of the film, it foreshadows his role in the film surprisingly well.
- Flash Back: There are several of these in the main body of the film; in the first viewing, they make it trickier to figure out what level of reality the film is on at any given moment.
- Floating Head Syndrome: On the most recent DVD packaging)
- Heroic BSoD: Several, most notably during and after the "Eleanor's Dream" segment.
- Implausible Deniability: Paul accepts Harry's explanations anyway.
- Inevitable Waterfall: At a critical point of the "Eleanor's Dream" segment.
- Journey to the Center of the Mind — Word of God at the time of the film's release stated that dreams are related to the inner life of the dreamer.
- Law of Conservation of Normality: With the fate of his music empire at stake, Paul still keeps his long schedule as if nothing has happened. Unusual, since this law doesn't normally apply to films.
- Life Embellished: Maybe not by much, but it was—both from life and inside the film.
- Masquerade Our protagonist is hiding what's going on from outsiders.
- MacGuffin: The tapes.
- Mind Screw: Especially if watching this unspoiled.
- Mondegreen: The subtitles on the most recent DVD of this film and the liner notes in the soundtrack CD (original printing) are at odds with each other.
- The Musical: Natural in a film with Paul McCartney about a Day in the Life of a musician.
- Neck Lift: Big Bob to Tom the Roadie.
- Nested Story: Starts with Paul awake but sleepy in a limo trapped in a traffic jam. Ends after Paul is awakened at his destination. There are inner nests as well.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: The impetus of the plot.
- Nightmare Sequence: Several.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: There is an ersatz Michael Jackson in the "Silly Love Songs" scene.
- One-Book Author: This was Paul Webb's sole directorial effort, while Paul never wrote another script.
- Performance Video: There are several points where Paul and various back-up bands can be seen performing, and a couple of in-story music videos.
- Power Glows: The tape case.
- The Quest: To retrieve a certain master tape...
- Self-Deprecation: Paul, several times.
- Smoking Is Cool: Ringo can really rock a cigarette.
- Title Drop: Silliness that proves plot-critical
- Viewers Are Geniuses. This film has references to fine art, clever wordplay, multiple allusions, and assumptions of rock star life (in general) and McCartney's life (in particular)-and almost no one outside of the screenwriter's inner circle could get even half of these. Even the real MPL of the era missed some of the references in the novelization.