The Shuffle: The Return of the Musical | The mixture
In 2009, Hugh Jackman proclaimed loud and clear at the Oscars that “The Musical is Back!”
At the time, it made sense. That year, the film version of “Mamma Mia!” was a resounding success and the popular “High School Musical” series closed its series with “High School Musical 3: Senior Year”. There was reason to be optimistic.
What followed Jackson’s proclamation was a series of exaggerated flops: “Nine”, “Burlesque”, “Rock of Ages” and “Jersey Boys”, with a few hits like “Les MisÃ©rables” and “The Greatest Showman” by Jackman. For the most part, the musical was not back.
That hasn’t stopped Hollywood from trying to bring the genre back in full force, especially in 2021. “In The Heights” remains one of my favorite movies of the year. Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of “West Side Story” is looming on the horizon. In the meantime, three musicals have been released recently, with varying results. Let’s see how they are doing.
“Dear Evan Hansen” (PG-13, in theaters Friday) – The stage version of Tony’s winning smash was funny, inventive, and energetic. Even though his take on mental health is extremely problematic, and his central storyline is creepy and bordering on evil, you could forgive him because of his catchy songs and Ben Platt’s incredible, edgy performance.
As a movie, it doesn’t work at all. All the energy has been zapped, replaced by a dripping melodrama and an icy rhythm. While Platt’s voice still skyrockets, he sounds like an undercover adult in high school. As a grieving and grieving mother, the permanent smile on Amy Adams face is baffling.
It has become an easy target for critics as there is a lot of wrong and I would like to give it the benefit of the doubt. But the many glaring issues, from its bland colors to its inability to switch from dialogue to song and bloated runtime, make it impossible to recommend.
“Come from afar” (Now playing on Apple TV +) – Originally slated to be a film version of the popular musical, COVID restrictions forced the original cast and director to decide whether to shoot the performance live instead. It’s better this way.
Capturing the intricate choreography, sparse staging, and costume changes for this small cast, playing multiple characters in this musical about passengers stranded in Canada during September 11, it’s a prime example of why more musicals , including “Dear Evan Hansen”, should simply shoot the performance live instead of turning it into a movie.
“Cinderella (2021)” (PG. Now playing on Amazon Prime Video) – It’s a disaster. But it’s a fun disaster, so it’s worth the trip. Written and directed by Kay Cannon (“Pitch Perfect”), it’s pretty much the “Pitch Perfect” version of the classic story, right down to mashups, jukebox music songs and Camila Cabello as a star. Very few things work as expected. But the cast, which includes Pierce Brosnan, Minnie Driver, and Billy Porter, seem to be having fun, and that goes a long way to making it tolerable.