Bleh with Barry

Random with a cynical twist of lime.

The Sweeney Phantom Who Won’t Pay Last Years Rent in Chicago: Musical Movies

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Over the past ten years or so, many musical movies have come out to appeal to the general public, and while some of them are good, most of them have been lack luster at best. However, I’m not saying this about all of them because there have been a few that have stood head and shoulders about the rest. So, I’m going to discuss the good, the bad, and the “eh”.

The Bad:
The Phantom of the Opera–A broadway success that was finally brought to film by Joel Schumacher (very poorly I might add). While the costumes and things were grandiose, the leads were terrible. Christine (Emmy Rossum) and the Phantom (Gerard Butler) were just awful. Neither one of them could carry off the vocalization of the parts or the characters themselves. Most of the time Rossum looks like she is in a trance and has what my friends would call the “muffin face” which is the where her mouth is open (the majority of the movie) and a muffin could be placed in it. Also, they cut a whole verse of “The Phantom of the Opera” theme song because she couldn’t make the key change. It was too high for her. Butler is not much better…while his voice isn’t the worst in the world, he is nowhere near the quality of voice needed to play the Phantom. Why? It is because the Phantom has to be a tenor with an extremely large range…Butler is a smoker with a normal range…also, I suspect that he isn’t a tenor…he is a faux-tenor (a baritone masquerading as a tenor). Both of them are also pitiful when it comes to the emotions behind the show…but I will not get into that…and lip syncing ability (watch the movie their lip match is the worst).

The best part of this show to me is the supporting cast. With Minnie Driver (who did not sing the Carlotta songs…but did sing “Learn to Be Lonely” during the credits), Patrick Wilson, Miranda Richardson, and others, they are the reason to watch…I recommend watching the ensemble pieces which are fairly okay…

The “Eh”

Sweeney Todd–A movie directed by Tim Burton and featuring the music of Stephen Sondheim. It contains dark music, and the tone of the movie accentuates this. However, the main two characters Todd and Mrs. Lovett played by Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter are not the caliber of singers needed for these roles. Broadway greats such as Len Cariou and Michael Cerveris and Angela Lansbury and Patti Lupone have played these characters too much success, but they have something which the movie main characters didn’t have. They have power. Depp and Carter do not…they come off as hollow shells of the original characters. Because of this, powers songs like “A Little Priest” and “My Friends” came off as wimpy.

Again, I will have to make allowances for the supporting cast. Alan Rickman, Sacha Baron Cohen, and the others all do a tremendous job of bringing the world of the demon barber to life.

The Good

Chicago and Rent are the two movies that I would say adapted well and kept the heart of the original. Why? Because for the most part they got Broadway caliber actors to perform the roles. Catherine Zeta Jones, Anthony Rapp, Idina Menzel, Adam Pascal, and a majority of the others have actually been on Broadway…OMG! Such a concept to have Broadway stars in MUSICAL Movies…They add so much to the overall sound and dynamic of the show.

They also don’t try to play the musicality of the movies too realistically. If you have watched either movie, they are pretty blatant about keeping the audience in the “you’re in a musical” loop. Now, don’t get me wrong; they don’t beat you over the head with it. However, they play with the idea of it being in a character’s head (Chicago) and the fact that all of them are artists living a very unrealistic disillusioned life(Rent). Why not have music?

They tie both the worlds of the realistic and the over-the-top world of musicals into a cohesive whole. They make no claims to be anything but what they are. I think if other musical based movies tried to follow suit that more of them wouldn’t get lost to the wayside and be considered to be crappy renditions of a once great show.

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  1. The number one reason I didn’t like Sweeney the movie: they cut every bit of chorus material. How can you do Sweeney Todd without “The Ballad of Sweeney Todd”? Honestly. Also, the ending? What was that?

    The more I am exposed to the Broadway version of RENT, the less I like the movie. They lost a LOT of its energy and made it more sentimental. Which is fine for some people, but not me. Lose the sentiment, give me the junkies singing “Christmas Bells.”

    Creaves

    April 23, 2010 at 9:23 pm


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