Ryan’s Top 5 Unconventional Movie Musicals
It’s time to be introduced to my movie musical favorites!
I’ve had a few articles drafted up about musicals and then I noticed someone (Matt) was beating me to the punch. So I realized that I had to switch gears and get some of my musical preferences out there before I was living in someone else’s shadow haha.
While I prefer live performances when it comes to musicals, there are a few films that have reached me on a similar capacity. I kept this list confined to films essentially inundated with song (with one exception) as there are many films that I appreciate for the music alone.
Keep in mind that I’m not a traditional type of movie musical enthusiast. I’ve experience most of the classics but many do not speak to me on that emotional level that I crave. For instance, I cannot stand “The Sound of Music” despite respecting it for its craft. So without further adieu, here is my arguably unconventional list of favorites.
5. The Last Five Years
While poorly received by critics and audiences alike, I am probably an outlier when it comes to “The Last Five Years.” Some may have seen a dreary outlook on love with no resolve but I saw a harsh yet sad reality. As the film juxtaposes love’s happy beginning against a bitter ending, Anna Kendrick and Jeremy Jordan vocally convey those ups and downs through exceptional cadence and rhythm. The flow of the film may be disjointed when it comes to plot but I think chaotic flow is a perfect metaphorical representation of Jamie (Jordan) and Cathy’s (Kendrick) relationship.
I’ve watched this film multiple times and it instills an emotional response each time I watch. Despite the negative response to the film, I think it was an exceptional adaptation of the original musical.
As another adaptation of a Broadway success story, “RENT” fell under a lot of scrutiny for not living up to the magic of the original. It’s true that the “RENT” stage performance is unrivaled by the film, but the film did have some redeeming qualities all its own.
This film brought on many of the original Broadway cast members with the few exceptions being Daphne Rubin-Vega replaced by Rosario Dawson and Fredi Walker replaced by Tracie Thoms. Surprisingly enough the replacements did an exceptional job and (dare I say it) I think Rosario Dawson actually outperformed Daphne Rubin-Vega as Mimi.
The film adaptation is not the way that “RENT” should be experienced but it’s definitely a nostalgic reminder of the original Broadway magic.
3. The Rocky Horror Picture Show
I was a late bloomer for “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.” I knew about its cult status and a local theater in my hometown puts on the “full audience experience” once a month. After it reached that status, I didn’t want to dive in head first so it took some time. But when it finally hit, it hit hard.
The musical was definitely ahead of its time with its sexually explorative themes but outside of that, “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” is just plain fun. The songs are catchy, the film is quirky, and the overall experience is downright crazy. But with all of the absurdities that are synonymous with fun, it’s easy to see why this film is a cult classic among musicals.
2. Hamlet 2
This film isn’t technically a musical but it’s a film about a musical. The idea of the film itself, writing a sequel to “Hamlet,” is definitely funny, but the final musical performance is where my focus lies for this particular list.
I’ve praised this part of the film in the past and I continue to whole-heartedly push for Broadway to adapt this film’s musical into a live show. The music and lyrics are catchy and the themes push boundaries that are reminiscent of the Trey Parker and Matt Stone hit “The Book of Mormon.”
If you don’t have any interest in seeing this film, at least fast forward to the end of “Hamlet 2” so that you can at least hear “Rock Me Sexy Jesus.”
This is a film that is filled with honesty and perseverance. Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová are the voices behind this film about struggling musicians and love and they definitely make sure their voices are heard.
With a well deserved Academy Award win for the title song “Falling Slowly,” this film touts more than just an Oscar. What the film lacks in budget, it makes up for in heart. This movie musical was so powerful that even the stars got caught up in the passion as they formed a relationship in real life along with a band known as The Swell Season.
When first watching this film back in 2007, I had no idea the emotional impact it would have on me. It’s so raw yet so perfect at the same time. Watching this film or listening to the soundtrack feels like you’re experiencing two people who are vocalizing their aspirations in their final breath. This musical is a gem all its own and everyone should give this one a chance.