Walking on Sunshine: Sing-A-Long Edition review

A visit to see her older sister Maddie (Annabel Scholey) in Italy is full of surprises for recent university graduate Taylor (Hannah Arterton). Not only does Maddie reveal that she’s getting married following a whirlwind romance with a local, but it turns out that her Italian fiancé Raf (Giulio Berruti) is the boy that Taylor fell in love with while on holiday three years earlier!

A belated cash-in on the success of Mamma Mia!, this dismal British musical may feature many similar ingredients, but it ultimately feels like a cheap and nasty copy that was thrown together without any rhyme or reason.

Take the main love-triangle for example. Plenty is made of how much Raf is in love with Maddie, so why should we root for somebody to ruin his relationship with her? Not to mention, would Taylor really want to win back the love of a man who has spent the past few weeks having sex with her older sister (including some rather kinky stuff given one of the suggestions made in the film)? And anyway, isn’t Raf a bit of a d**k for essentially giving up on Maddie in the first place simply because she insisted on finishing her education (how terrible, a woman with career aspirations).

Of course, it might have been a little easier to overlook some of this if the musical numbers themselves were any cop. Unfortunately, the performances of the ‘80s pop songs on offer (including Venus, The Wild Boys and a truly toe-curling rendition of White Wedding) veer from the acceptable to the downright awful. Indeed, huge congratulations are due to Greg Wise for making Pierce Brosnan seem like an accomplished singer by comparison.

It may not be the worst musical ever made, but that doesn’t stop Walking on Sunshine from being one of the most crass, cynically-motivated and lifeless examples of the genre you’ll ever have to suffer through.

Picture: Walking on Sunshine arrives on Blu-ray with a suitably bright and vibrant 2.40:1-framed Full HD transfer that does a fine job of bringing the Italian sun to your AV set-up. However, for all that colours ping off the screen and there’s plenty of fine detail on show, the flat lighting utilized throughout the film (bar a couple of night scenes) gives the glossy imagery a fairly cheap look reminiscent of the sort of special episode of a sitcom you’d find on BBC or ITV over the festive period.
Picture rating: 4.5/5

Audio: For a musical, Walking in Sunshine boasts a curiously underpowered DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track. Dialogue and Foley effects are all present and correct, if kept pretty firmly fixed to the front L/C/R spread. However, the real problems come whenever the singing starts – which is surely the film’s entire raison d’etre. Not only are the vocal performances and the musical arrangements fairly lackluster, but not only is there no power behind them, but there’s no real attempt to make use of the full 360-degree soundstage either.
Audio rating: 3.5/5

Extras: There’s a rather modest selection of extra features included on this Blu-ray, kicking off with the Sing-A-Long mode touted on the cover. Click ‘Play Feature’ on the main menu and you’ll be offered the chance to watch the normal version of the film, or a version with colour-changing subtitles during the musical numbers so you can join in a spot of karaoke.

The more traditional set of extras begins with a trio of brief behind-the-scenes featurettes for three of the musical numbers – Don’t You Want Me (4 mins), How Will I Know (3 mins) and Walking on Sunshine (4 mins). After this comes a standard EPK-style promo featurette (4 mins), footage of dancers entertaining the crowd at the premiere (3 mins) and the music video for the film’s version of Walking on Sunshine (3 mins). All of the extras are encoded at 1080i.
Extras rating: 2/5

We say: A reasonable hi-def platter for a terrible musical. Even fans of cheesy ‘80s pop should steer well clear…

Walking on Sunshine: Sing-A-Long Edition, Entertainment One, Region B BD, £25 Approx