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YMMV / Absolute Beginners

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  • Audience-Alienating Premise: Anyone not familiar with late-1950s British socio-politics, the rise of far-right and neo-fascist political movements post-WW2, and the nuances of "Ted", "Mod", and "Hipster" subcultures and their influence on British music and broader popular culture is bound to be confused.
  • Awesome Music: Some great music by David Bowie (the title song, "That's Motivation"), Sade ("Killer Blow"), and Ray Davies ("Quiet Life"), among others. The dancing's pretty cool too.
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  • Big-Lipped Alligator Moment: Arguably "That's Motivation". It's bizarre even by this film's standards because it's a Disney Acid Sequence that's way over the top and comes out of nowhere. Though it's a Villain Recruitment Song that temporarily works on Colin, by that point in the movie he's already well on the road to selling out — the number that precedes it is even called "Selling Out" — so it isn't vital to the storyline. Moreover, though Vendice Partners turns out to have been one of the hands in the Evil Scheme, save for a glimpse of him shortly before the climax he disappears for the rest of the movie (resulting in What Happened to the Mouse?).
  • Harsher in Hindsight: In the film, the Big Bad's plot is to hire white supremacists to drive minorities out of Notting Hill, thereby allowing him buy up the tenements cheaply, knock them down, and build luxury apartments in their place. As of 2020, Notting Hill is infamously one of the most gentrified residential areas of London. Looks like The Bad Guy Wins after all...
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  • Narm: Falls victim to this nearly every time the film gets serious. Highlights include Colin's drug-addled lipsyncing at Dido Lament's party, Flicker singing "Teddy Bear's Picnic" menacingly while he waves a knife around, a witch-doctor calling down a lightning bolt on some thugs at the White City race riot (a real event that caused very real devastation) and any scene with Steven Berkoff's weird Hitler-like character.
  • One-Scene Wonder: Most of the film's most memorable characters, played by recognizable celebrities to boot, only appear for one or two brief scenes.
  • They Changed It, Now It Sucks!: Fans of the novel - which was to England in The '50s what The Catcher in the Rye was to America during that same time - were unhappy in how the novel was changed.