Rate the recent Broadway-to-Hollywood films!

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best12bars
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Since this seems to be going on a lot on other threads as "tangents," I thought I'd make a thread that was actually ABOUT this subject.

There have been a handful of movies made from Broadway shows recently, and several more are on the way. I think we're in a bit of a "winning streak" lately, but time will tell.

Of the ones that are already out there, I would rank them accordingly, based on overall effectiveness, artistic vision, entertainment value, quality, emotional connection, and of course... the swimsuit competition.

I'm sure you'll argue away and have a very different idea on what's good and what's not-so-good, but I stand by my opinion as... well... MY opinion.

The good ones:

1. Chicago - nailed it in all respects and (with the help of Moulin Rouge the year before) reignited the film musical as a "successful" genre.

2 & 3. (tie) Dreamgirls and Hairspray -- practically perfect, but each with minor flaws. Dreamgirls had more weight to it (no pun intended), but Hairspray had less lagging moments (although there were a few minor ones). Both were equally effective, but in different ways, mostly due to the source material of drama vs. comedy. Hairspray ends with a big "bang," and Dreamgirls ending kind of dies out and fizzles gracefully, with less energy "punch" (which it did on Broadway, too).

4. Rent - I feel the movie has gotten a bum rap, and is much better than "the mass opinion" says it is. I actually liked Chris Columbus's direction quite a bit, and I don't give a rat's ass what was cut or saved or reworked. I thought what was on screen was pretty great. The cast was uneven (Best: Dawson; Most Awkward and Uneven: Pascal) I think this movie will grow in time, once the Rentheads die out or leave it the hell alone.

Not-so-good:

1. Phantom Of the Opera - A beautiful-looking film that failed on almost every level other than visuals. First and foremost, the tempos of the music, which were SO SLOW, it killed any possible chance of spontaneity on the screen. The audience was 6 or 7 steps ahead at all times (if they even stayed through the film). The three leads were miscast: Emmy Rossum CAN'T SING. She has the voice of a semi-decent boy soprano singing in public for the first time. She's no Christine, and should never have played the part. Gerard Butler is too young and hunky to be the Phantom. I didn't mind his coarse, guttural voice, but I minded the frightening, grotesque Phantom being played by super hero "action figure." And as good as Patrick Wilson can be on stage, he was bland, boring and too "white bread" for Raoul. And his singing was largely lackluster, which was surprising.

2. The Producers - I put it in the not-so-good category, but just barely. It works fine, if you want what "plays" like a fancy bootleg of the stage show. As a "matter of record," it's a nice archive of the stage show. As a film on its own merits, it feels old, creaky and full of mothballs. Susan Stroman apparently wanted to make "Singin' in the Rain" for a new generation. She copied most (if not all) of the directorial and choreographic styles of that era, and proved to me that we can't go back in time. As much as I love "Singin' in the Rain," that kind of film making language doesn't "speak" well in today's world, if applied to new material. She did what she set out to do, it just didn't work very well.

I'll add to my list later on... but what are your "good" and "not so good" choices?
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Updated On: 7/31/07 at 10:30 AM
phantom8019
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I think you nailed it... I have some minor differences, but that is all.
However, being the Broadway whore I am, I saw each of these movies multiple times in the movie theater... and even though some sucked or had bad parts, I was still overjoyed in each instance that they were singing... on a movie screen!!!!

Updated On: 7/31/07 at 11:03 AM
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Rent kind of teeters between the two sides for me. What bothers me about it is inbetween the songs. The show is fast with one song pretty much leading into the other, so the energy keeps going. With the movie, a song would end and we would have, for example, silence as a character walks away. It killed the energy for me. I think it would have used some tweaking there. I also didn't agree with the using the original Broadway cast mainly because of ages. That didn't bother me as much as my first issue though.
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Thanks, phantom, and I agree. I was very excited and glad to see this material up on the big screen.

"Rent" did have a problem (more so than Phantom of the Opera, even) with having that too-much-music-I-can't-breathe feeling. Whenever they did stop for dialogue, I felt like I was coming up for air. I'm not sure why. Was it too processed or prerecorded? I didn't have that problem with Phantom (although I had every OTHER problem with Phantom)...
"Jaws is the Citizen Kane of movies."
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Oh, fun!

The Good:

1. CHICAGO- The best stage to screen adaptation of recent memory. I was enthralled from the moment the camera zoomed in on Roxy's eye to reveal a lit "C". And then, I heard the first notes of that Overture, and I was in. I was hooked and never turning back. Rob Marshall knew exactly what he was doing, and he and Bill Condon both deserved Oscars. Catherine Zeta-Jones gives an astounding performance, as do all other leads in the film (notable John C. Reilly as a perfect Amos Hart).

2. DREAMGIRLS- Jennifer Hudson leads a superb cast (with the exception of the bland Jamie Foxx) in this fast-paced, very music heavy film. Bill Condon directed with ease and flair (with the exception of "Family"). It's a beautiful film with fanatastic, Oscar deserving costumes and some lush orchestrations.

3. HAIRSPRAY- So much fun! A bunch of great performances. However, my biggest problem was the little bit of story editing. Why would Tracy flee the scene after the march? That's very unlike Tracy. However, other than that one little oddity, this film was tons of fun. John Travolta was fabulous.

The Bad:

1. THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA- It was pretty bad, but I didn't hate it. Emmy Rossum was serviceable, but nothing special. Gerard Butler was fine, but his makeup was so off for the reveal scene. His distortions didn't match up with his mask! Patrick Wilson was boring and nothing too special. However, the film is gorgeous to look at.

2. THE PRODUCERS- What were they thinking? Why would Susan Stroman decide to recreate a stage play on film? Does she not know who goes to movies? Did she not want to make money? Matthew Broderick gives us a great example of a stage performance just coming off as overacting on the screen. Lane is fine, but all the jokes just fall flat in this boring film. The only highlight is "Springtime for Hitler", which was in the original. I think Stroman had a chance to improve or take a new take on the original film, but that chance was completely passed up.

The Ugly:

1. RENT- I sat in the theatre on the day it came out (was it Thanksgiving or Christmas?). I sat there awaiting something exciting and edgy. I got the boring mess that Chris Columbus decided as worthy of an actual film. No performance ever reached the level it should, especially Idina Menzel, who was just horrible, and Adam Pascal, who gave a completely awkward performance. I did like Dawson's performance, but unfortunately, she was directed badly. I mean, what was Adam Pascal doing randomly on those rocks in Santa Fe during "What You Own". This film is a sad excuse for a movie, especially a film of such a brilliant stage musical.


Can't wait for SWEENEY, NINE, and MAMMA MIA!
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I felt that all the life was sucked out of Rent every time the music stopped. There was very little instrumental music between songs and most of them seemed to land with a thud. '

It also suffered a similar syndrome that Dreamgirls suffered, in which changes were made to the story seemingly arbitrarily. For example, why did Rent change the first act from one night to three. All sense of urgency was lost. In Dreamgirls, why did Effie and CC suddenly have a "Family." It made little sense for CC to sign (and do those weird hand gestures) about not being alone now when they were never alone to begin with. I don't have problems with changes being made from stage to screen, I just have a problem when the changes seem to be for the sake of making changes.

I agree the Chicago is the best movie musical of the past few years.

My list would be

1. Chicago
2. Hairspray
3. Dreamgirls
4. Phantom (sue me, I liked it!)
5. Rent and The Producers (tie)

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Updated On: 7/31/07 at 11:29 AM
phantom8019
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What's most interesting, I think, is that the box office sort of agrees with these lists too. You have Chicago, Dreamgirls, and Hairspray as box office hits, Phantom and Rent doing so-so/disappointing (though Phantom made 100 million overseas), and The Producers as a flop. Is this one of the few times in movie history where box office returns actually favor quality?
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Are we not considering movies that were "pre-Chicago"?

Because two of my favorites (more for style than substance) are Evita and Moulin Rouge.
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>> Why would Susan Stroman decide to recreate a stage play on film?

We watched it again this weekend (I wasnt exactly thrilled about it, but Scott wanted to, so there you are), and I think, having seen it three times now, that Stroman was indeed trying to recreate a stage play on film. Problem is, she didnt push the conceit far enough. If she wanted to really go for it, she could have looked to precursors like Red Garters (which is well worth hunting down, BTW) or One From the Heart for a real study in making a musical completely on a sound stage. As it stands, it's just neither fish nor fowl.

Musicals pre-Chicago that worked on the screen? Not many, sadly. The only one I can think of is The Boy Friend, which is a wonderful little romp.
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Are we not considering movies that were "pre-Chicago"?

Because two of my favorites (more for style than substance) are Evita and Moulin Rouge.

- Evita was 1996. That is recent? Moulin Rouge is more recent - but it WASN'T a Broadway-to-Hollywood film.
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And as good as Patrick Wilson can be on stage, he was bland, boring and too "white bread" for Raoul.

How can you accuse an actor of making Raoul so "white-bread" when that's what Raoul is - when that's ALL he is?

My list (for completion's sake, I'm going to include EVITA):
1. Chicago
2. Hairspray
3. Dreamgirls
4. The Producers
5. Evita
6. Rent
7. Phantom of the Opera
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ljay889 -

yes I would consider Evita recent, anything since the 1990's and on is recent for a movie-musical. And I think Moulin Rouge was far too influential to not mention.
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I alternately understand and am perplexed by all the RENT movie hate on this board.

I understand it in that the movie seemed very bland and glossed over, and the actors were far too old for their roles.

I'm perplexed by it in that if Columbus had cast younger actors, everyone on these boards would eat him alive for daring to cast anyone other than the originals. Shouldn't we at least be thankful or respectful of the fact that Columbus clearly took a reverential approach to making the film, regardless of how lackluster it turned out?

In retrospect, I don't think Columbus could win in this situation, because no matter what he did, he would've invoked the ire of SOMEONE.

For what it's worth, I enjoyed the film---but I was never a RENThead to begin with.
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I guess I'll give my two cents on EVITA. I don't really know where it fits (The Good or Bad?) because sometimes I will think about it and ask myself "Why would they cast Madonna?" but then other times I ask myself "Who else could they have cast?".

So, here goes!

The Not So Bad, But Not So Good:

1. EVITA- This film never reached that height of excitement that most movie musicals reach for me, and I never felt completely enthralled or even merely interested in what was going on on the screen. Madonna was serviceable, but definitely weak in voice and less that stellar in her acting. One of the most annoying things in this movie is how they try to make her look young by giving her this awful short black wig that really only makes her look older. Antonio Banderas is very good; he was the only perfect casting in the film. Jonathan Pryce was a bore. The director must have been on some kind of drugs when he decided to place "Buenos Aires", the score's most exciting and lively number, in a dingy little bar. What a mistake! I happen to like the "Another Suitcase..." switch because having the mistress break out into a whole song would have just seemed out place in the "wanna- be biographical" film. I'll watch this movie if it's on HBO, but, other than that, I have no desire.





Since MOULIN ROUGE! is not a stage to screen adaptation, I won't offer a review. But let me just sum it up in a word: BRILLIANCE.
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re: Rate the recent Broadway-to-Hollywood films!

Madonna's "young" wig

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Having not seen Dreamgirls or Evita, my list would be:

1. Chicago
2. Hairspray
3. (Tie) The Producers (The direction sucked, but the cast was good)
Rent (Loved it when I saw it in theatres, wasn't fond of it on DVD)
I am a firm believer in serendipity- all the random pieces coming together in one wonderful moment, when suddenly you see what their purpose was all along.
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The Evita movie "de-politicized" the musical too much for me.

My favorite recent musical movie that's been in theaters is Dreamgirls. I didn't much like Chicago (I know that I'm alone in that.)
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1. Chicago
2. Dreamgirls
3. Hairspray
4. The Phantom of The Opera
5. Rent
6. The Producers
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I still crack up when I think that Will Ferrel was nominated for a Golden Globe for his performance in THE PRODUCERS.

Wait, Emmy Rossum was as well!
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Will Ferrel was one of the best ones on that screen.

He was MILES better than Broderick, and even Lane.
I am a firm believer in serendipity- all the random pieces coming together in one wonderful moment, when suddenly you see what their purpose was all along.
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1.Hairspray
2.Chicago
3.Dreamgirls
4.Phantom
5.The Producers
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Will Ferrel is like a bratty little kid that'll do anything for a laugh - he always thinks he's the funniest one in the movie, and he's so not.
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I disagree, wizard.

But maybe it's just because that role irks me. I thought he was just overacting, a German version of any other one of his comic sketches.

THE PRODUCERS was nominated for a Best Comedy/ Music Golden Globe. HAHA.
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Chicago
Dreamgirls
Hairspray
Hedwig And The Angry Inch
The Producers
Reefer Madness
Rent
Once Upon A Mattress
The Phantom of the Opera
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Well, overacting is (IMO) what the role calls for.

Sue me. I thought he was hilarious. Better than Thurman, Broderick, and Lane at least.
I am a firm believer in serendipity- all the random pieces coming together in one wonderful moment, when suddenly you see what their purpose was all along.



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