2.08.2008

A Pair of Musicals

Straying from the usual here, I'm going to group two reviews into one post. These two films go together under the general theme and disclaimer that while I like music, and I generally enjoy movies, for whatever reason, I just don't like movies that are musicals, and these two films didn't change that opinion by all that much.

Hairspray (2007)

First up is Hairspray. This is the 2007 film remake of a 1988 film, that was also a Broadway play. It features a plot that focuses on Baltimore in 1962, and racial integration on some American Bandstand knockoff show. It features John Travolta, Michelle Pfeifer, and newcomer Nikki Blonsky who was plucked from serving ice cream at a Cold Stone Creamery for the part in a real life "rags to riches" tale. While Nikki is well cast, I'm still wondering why we needed to have Travolta dressed in drag to play her mother. The novelty of this quickly wears off, and just didn't make sense to me. The highlight of Hairspray is the rockin' late 50's tunes, and proof that this endurable style of music can transcend generation, and that rock 'n roll is here to stay. Unfortunately, it can only save this saccharin sweet film that bases its theme on acceptance of all, by so much. Too bad the plot was too shallow, as a film like Talk To Me did a much better job of conveying this theme with the depth it deserves.

Overall Grade: C

Once (2006)

The second musical this week is less of a traditional one, the film Once. Instead of the snappy show tunes and the orchestra overture, we have two musicians turned actors, Glen Hansard, and Marketa Irglova, and not exactly well known ones at that. Hansard is the street performer by night with his guitar on the streets of Dublin, and by day he works at his father's vacuum cleaner shop. Irglova is a struggling Czech immigrant who cleans houses to support her daughter and mother. Together, they click, (after she gets her vacuum fixed of course). There is too much of a raw edge to this film that left me with a low budget feeling like we were making a rockumentary at some points. Also, too much of the dialogue gets done in foreign tongues, and with no subtitles that leaves us out of what is going on behind all the chatter. In addition, the plot kind of falls apart as the film concludes leaving us to wonder what this was all about. Still, the songs at least fit into the story better here, and don't feel as artificial as a singing squirrel in the forest that characterizes too many musicals. I'm thinking the bottom line is that this film is worth looking at Once if you're a fan of some simple acoustic folk rock. While the love affair between these two seems destined for the ages at the start, if fizzles faster than a stale pop rock.

Overall Grade: B-

Reviewed by Jonas

1 comment:

DCNofer said...

I really enjoy reading ur reviews, and u do such a great job of "taking" me to ur actual viewing and to what you were thinking when watching the movie. I saw "Hairspray" b/c of Amanda Bynes, who reminds me of Lucille Ball and who I thought was hysterical in "She's the Man." I agree that, as a movie with a message, "Hairspray" would fall short, but as a silly vehicle for music and jokes I felt it hit fairly close to the mark.