Tuesday, December 06, 2005

We went to see the movie version of RENT last night and ended up being the only people in the theatre. Apparently everyone was hiding in their basements with a surplus of corn flakes, milk, and toilet paper in anticipation of the first winter storm catastrophe of the season (because in the event of a blizzard, you should immediately begin making Hummel figurines out of paper maché so you have something to trade for food when the snow melts and people return above ground for the first time in twenty years to repopulate the Earth). Ultimately, the snow ended up being pretty in the air and slushy on the ground, and I only spun out fourteen times on the way home.

Going into the movie, I was someone who knew the original cast recording by heart, but had never seen a stage version of it. I thought the original scores were very catchy and eclectic and the drama had a few high points, though other parts were too dragging and could have used some streamlining or reworking. All of this is captured in the movie version, which meanders through the most important threads of the show, doing some very well and others just passably.

All of the actors did exceptionally well in their performances, which is expected since they spent years of their life in these same roles on Broadway. It was definitely nice to hear them do their familiar songs, although Taye Diggs and Adam "boy do I have way too much hair" Pascal have lost a little bit of the young vocal vibrancy they had ten years ago. I wasn't too thrilled with the replacement they used for Mimi, Rosario Dawson, although she grew on me as the movie went on. I felt like her voice was too pretty and mature for the role she was in. The original, Daphne Rubin-Vega, was not a great singer by any means, but felt more believable as a 19-year-old.

The film dragged the most when it tried to act like a play. The movement of the "Seasons of Love" anthem from the second act to the beginning, with all the cast members just standing on a stage felt totally out of place. Some numbers seemed to have been translated directly to film without any use of film techniques. I think that if you're going to do something in a different format, you should try to take advantage of what makes that format work, rather than do a rigid one-to-one. RENT on film probably loses much of the energy you would get from a live performance, and many scenes just seem a little limp. The film works best when it doesn't just stick to the original script -- adding energy from camera motion and moving from room to room (which you can't do on a stage), or intercutting musical numbers with montages and flashbacks. Some of the most effective songs in the film were the ones where the actors were singing over a silent montage rather than singing in the frame. I thought the sequence for "Without You" that ended with the funeral was point-perfect and probably more emotional than it could have been on stage.

There were some interesting cuts made in the name of trimming the running time, although it's still about twenty minutes too long. All of the "Christmas Bells" sequences were removed, yet they left in the entire Santa Fe song which could have been trimmed out. The omission that I missed most was the "Halloween / Goodbye Love" sequence right after the funeral. To me, it seemed like one of the most important parts of the show, since it really explores what's going on between Roger and Mimi, and confronts Mark about his own issues. It was also a little jarring to hear much of the sung dialogue spoken, especially when it rhymed. I was not aware that Dr. Seuss had been called on as a lyrics coach.

The film is supposedly rated PG-13 but it is definitely just as racy as Broadway show was. Despite the fortunate removal of the "Take Me" song, all the lyrics are here in their entirety and it's definitely not a movie you want to send your 13-year-old off to see. Apparently PG-13 is now broad enough to include pole dancing, heroin injection, swearing, bare asses, and songs honoring masturbation. I'm not sure how Chris Columbus managed to pull that off -- my bet is that the review board presumed that the guy who made Home Alone, Harry Potter, Mrs. Doubtfire, and Adventures in Babysitting couldn't possibly make a racy movie, so they didn't even watch it.

So is the movie worth seeing? I liked it more than not. If you are a fan of the show, you should go see it, if only to enjoy the incredible performances of the original Broadway stars. There will be parts you hate and parts you probably like better. The story definitely doesn't feel as topical as it might have been last century, but the music is still solid and doesn't disappoint.

It also put me in a musicals mood, so I can start looking forward to Les Miserables, which I will be taking my clan to in mid-January at the National Theatre. I promise not to devote an entire week to it like I did when I went in 2002.

LOST stars party too hard in Hawaii
One more reason not to live in Canada
Mr. Konieczka said the youth left after being told the birds were guinea hens.

tagged as reviews | permalink | 4 comments
day in history


Previous Post: Monday Morning Football


Next Post: Untitled Post

 

You are currently viewing a single post from the annals of URI! Zone history. The entire URI! Zone is © 1996 - 2022 by Brian Uri!. Please see the About page for further information.

Jump to Top
Jump to the Front Page


December 2005
SMTWHFS
123
45678910
11121314151617
18192021222324
25262728293031
OLD POSTS
Old News Years J F M A M J
J A S O N D
J F M A M J
J A S O N D
J F M A M J
J A S O N D
J F M A M J
J A S O N D
J F M A M J
J A S O N D
J F M A M J
J A S O N D
J F M A M J
J A S O N D
J F M A M J
J A S O N D
J F M A M J
J A S O N D
J F M A M J
J A S O N D
J F M A M J
J A S O N D
J F M A M J
J A S O N D
J F M A M J
J A S O N D
J F M A M J
J A S O N D
J F M A M J
J A S O N D
J F M A M J
J A S O N D
J F M A M J
J A S O N D
J F M A M J
J A S O N D
J F M A M J
J A S O N D
J F M A M J
J A S O N D
J F M A M J
J A S O N D
J F M A M J
J A S O N D
visitors since November 2003