Before the gremlins ate our discussion of ‘Singin’ In The Rain,’ it contained a lovely discussion of movie musicals and the tools of their peculiar trade.  Luckily for you, THIS week’s Zach On Film is chockful of more musical goodness, which got my wheels turning about the heightened reality of musical theatre.  Many a bad comedian has commented on how unlikely the choreography and harmonies are, but that observation completely misses the point that a musical isn’t meant to be realistic.  (Having these discussions with comic fans, who are often of the rather ridiculous notion that Batman is realistic, is doubly fun.)

The MS-QOTD (pronounced, as always, “misquoted”) wrote a song ’bout it, like to here it, here it goes, asking: Does the musical genre work for you?

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Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture! And a nice red uniform.

13 Comments

  1. Since I’ve grown up with musicals, I’d say yes… but only on stage. There is exactly one film version of a musical I like (Gypsy) because filmmakers have no idea how to film a musical – they either cut songs & add pointless filler, change the plot but not the songs around dropped plot points, or just can’t tell when a shot should be a close-up of the star or a wide-view of the entire chorus. I can live with the suspension of disbelief that this is a world where everything is expressed in song. But it’s a world that works best on a stage, where it’s created by people who understand it.

  2. Yes, they absolutely work for me. I would argue that they are trickier to get “right” than regular movies. Musicals tend to either awesome or terrible. Regular movies can be just “OK” and if you see an “OK” movie at a matinee you don’t mind too much.

    I think a lot of it boils down to the “drama” factor. Putting ANYTHING to song can make it seem more dramatic, so it’s very easy to have a musical seem overly dramatic. Conversely, Crowe’s performance in Le Mis didn’t match the drama inherent in the role, and he was largely panned for it.

  3. I have always had a soft spot for the older musicals. A couple of my favorites are My Fair Lady, 1776 and Annie Get Your Gun.

  4. I both like and dislike it, just like I do almost every other genre. Just like sci-fi, fantasy, comedy and so on, there are some I really love and some I simply cannot stand.

  5. I think musicals are the ultimate form of fantasy.

    I can imagine worlds where elves and hobbits and magic rings exist or where creepy little girls crawl out of televisions to kill you. Worlds where samurais wield laser swords or where seeing your parents murdered makes you dress up like a bat and fight crime. I can even imagine a world where radiation makes a dinosaur mutate into something that looks like a guy in a rubber suit and breath radioactive fire. In none of those worlds do I ever imagine everyone suddenly stopping to sing and dance in a coordinated fashion (unless it’s a demon, a dancing demon — no, something isn’t right there.)

    And yet sometimes they do and that’s kind of wonderful.

  6. Oldcomicfan. on

    It depends on the musical. My favorites are My Fair Lady, Showboat, the latest version of the Producers and That Thing You Do (thought I don’t know if that last fits the definition of a musical). High on my list are Yellow Submarine and Cats, but other musicals, like Oklahoma and the modern ones based on Disney animated movies I absolutely detest. Could not the Hollywood musical be defined as the Poor Man’s Opera?

  7. If I suspend my disbelief that people just spontaneous burst into song and can often do so to say the old farm/school house/library annex, then yes. Considering that I read lots of comics, it’s fairly easy for me to suspend reality.

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