Movie musicals have a time – good, bad and confusing




Ben Platt, left, and Amandla Stenberg in a scene from “Dear Evan Hansen”.

Courtesy of Universal Pictures

Movie musicals have a moment. Even if they are not all excellent.

There are currently several musicals touring in theaters and streaming online, with even more underway. Here is a preview.

“Dear Evan Hansen”

The wait was high for the film adaptation of the Tony Award-winning Broadway hit on a high school student’s journey of self-discovery and acceptance after a classmate’s suicide.

Granted, this plotline is already a tough sell, but the musical comes with plenty of dedicated fans and accolades (the cast’s recording won a Grammy).

Then the film premiered at the Toronto Film Festival earlier this month – and the backlash began.

Critics’ reviews were not complimentary, and some questioned how the story’s sensitive premise was handled.

And many balked at the decision to pick Ben Platt (Netflix’s The Politician) for the film’s lead role, even though he created the role on Broadway and won a Tony Award for his performance.

Apparently the problem is, Platt is now 27 and still plays a high school student. Hey, I still think John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John looked too old to play high school kids in “Grease” – but it’s one of the most successful musicals of all time, so what?

Universal Pictures now performs a quick damage check before the movie opens. The studio, producers and actors hope the film speaks for itself (I haven’t seen it or the directing).

A studio insider told Yahoo! Entertainment whose executives “are deeply proud of ‘Dear Evan Hansen’ and the remarkable performances of the film’s talent. There is confidence on the Universal Lot that the general public will be hitting theaters well until the fall. »(In theaters Friday, September 24)


This is a lavish and rugged tale of the classic fairy tale about an orphan girl, her horrible mother-in-law and her sisters-in-law, her fairy godmother (ahem, here she is the fabulous godmother, you’ll see why) and a handsome prince.

The movie is very entertaining, and I think it deserves a much higher rating on Rotten Tomatoes (a disappointing 43% of critics and 64% of audiences), but hey. I thought it was a lot of fun.

He uses modern or classic pop songs in his score (like “Rhythm Nation” by Janet Jackson, “Material Girl” by Madonna or “Somebody to Love” by Queen).

And it has a diverse and acting cast with the gorgeous Camila Cabello as Cinderella, newcomer (but sure to be a star) Nicholas Galitzine as Prince Robert, the hilarious Billy Porter (“Pose”) ) as the Fabulous Godmother, Idina Menzel as the Stepmother and Pierce Brosnan and Minnie Driver as King and Queen.

This new version also incorporates the themes of women’s empowerment, gender equality, diversity and the universal – staying true to yourself. (Now streaming on Amazon Prime)

“Everyone’s talking about Jamie”

Another film adaptation of a theatrical production, this one based on the real-life story of a 16-year-old boy in Sheffield, England, who overcomes difficult obstacles and discrimination to fulfill his dream of becoming a drag queen.

It’s also an airy and entertaining tale that’s filled with energetic choreography, fun characters, vibrant songs, and an uplifting message. It’s sweet and touching without being manipulative – the perfectly flawed characters and serious performers deserve our emotional investment.

Max Harwood absolutely shines as the titular and flamboyant Jamie New, who tries to navigate a confused high school life with her best friend, Pritti (Lauren Patel), and her loving mother (Sarah Lancashire) showing genuine support. He quickly befriends local drag legend Miss Loco Chanelle (Richard E. Grant), who guides him to his stage debut.

But Jamie also has to deal with an indifferent, indifferent father and terribly ignorant classmates and teachers, who balk at his proclamation of wearing a dress to prom. As if it was the end of the world! (Now streaming on Amazon Prime)


Adam Driver plays the role of a comedian who falls in love and marries an acclaimed opera singer (Marion Cotillard). But their relationship changes when her career starts to run out of steam and they have their first child.

The film has an original screenplay, music and songs from the avant-garde rock duo Sparks. It premiered in May at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival in France with very mixed reviews, and for good reason. It is certainly a strange creation, at times confusing and infuriating.

It’s decidedly ambitious, and Driver is wholeheartedly a morally dubious father, who finds out after his wife’s death that their child has exceptional singing ability at the age of 2. So what is he doing? Take her around the world, of course.

At first I thought the movie was going to be a wonder, but that quickly diminished as it got confusing. For example, the couple’s child, the titular Annette, is played (mostly) by a spooky wooden puppet doll, the reason for which is never explained. And the whole tone is decidedly dark, even gloomy. The music is just … weird too.

Overall, the film is a commentary on the cult of blind celebrities, and the effort some will put into achieving it. It is certainly bold and daring. But be prepared for the weirdness. It took me a few times to get over it. (Now streaming on Amazon Prime)

To come up

On November 19, Netflix will release “Tick … tick … Boom!”, The directorial debut of Lin-Manuel Miranda (“Hamilton”), about a promising young theater composer (Andrew Garfield) who navigates between love and friendship . and the pressures of life as an artist in New York City as her 30th birthday approaches.

Around Christmas we can expect in theaters the lavish update to “West Side Story” by Steven Spielberg, which will either be awesome or a bombshell, there will be no in-between, and “Cyrano “, a film adaptation of the 2018 musical about French novelist and playwright Cyrano de Bergerac, who has, um, body image issues. Peter Dinklage (“Games of Thrones”) returns to his role on stage.

Contact Rod Pocowatchit at

This story was originally published September 26, 2021 2:41 am.


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