Amanda’s post last week ranking her Top 5: Music-Inspired Films got me thinking about some of my favorite movie musicals, or MOVICALS as they are often called. With Disney’s newest musical, Frozen, being nominated for multiple awards and even winning the Golden Globe for Best Animated Feature, I was inspired to write my open letter this week to movie musicals!
Dear Movie Musicals,
I’ve loved you for what seems like an eternity. Seriously, I think I was introduced to you when I saw The Sound of Music for the first time as a wee child. I think I was three years old when I first saw fell in love with that movie. It’s easily one of my favorite movies of all time, and definitely one of the best movie musicals around. Creating a movie musical takes some serious work, but producing a GOOD movie musical takes even more work plus a solid combination of chemistry, story, acting, excitement and of course, music. I have definitely seen some majorly bad movie musicals in my day. I think it’s safe to say that the classics like The Sound of Music, Bye Bye Birdie, Kiss Me Kate, Singin’ in the Rain, The Wizard of Oz, My Fair Lady, Cabaret, Guys and Dolls, Show Boat, An American in Paris, and West Side Story (plus many more) set the gold standard for movie musicals very early on. These are the movie musicals I grew up on. There’s nothing better than turning on Turner Classic Movies and seeing one of these great musicals playing on the screen. It’s such a great thing to see that these movie musicals are something still continually watched and loved. I’ll never turn on you classic movie musicals, NEVER!
The classics are phenomenal in their own right, but that’s not to say that there haven’t been some great recent movie musicals. I personally love Chicago, Moulin Rouge, Rent, Les Miserables, Grease, Hairspray, Dreamgirls, The Music Man, and The Producers, just to name a few (I know I’m leaving some out, don’t worry!). While I can’t say that Chicago truly deserved to win the Oscar for Best Picture at the 2003 Academy Awards, especially based on what it was up against, I can say that I think it’s one of the best movie musicals ever made. It’s one of those movies that I will always turn to when it’s playing on TV; I will never not watch it. The stage musical is phenomenal on it’s own, but the art of movie magic really brought out the best in Chicago and made it shine. If you haven’t seen it and you love movie musicals, watch it IMMEDIATELY. You won’t regret it!
Now, let’s talk about the elephant in the room: the BAD movie musicals. Guys, I adore Meryl Streep (sometimes more than my own family SHHHH) but Mamma Mia! was some of the worst movie making I’ve ever seen. Now, before you get your torches and pitchforks, let me explain myself. I’ve seen the stage version of Mamma Mia! and LOVE it. It’s one of my all time favorite musicals and that catchy ABBA music is just so dang good! BUT, the movie musical version of Mamma Mia! is just downright terrible. The singing is not good by any means even with Amanda Seyfried and Julie Walters, the choreography and direction is crappy, and I personally think it was rather miscast. To see one of my favorite stage musicals get butchered on film was soul crushing, especially after Chicago set the standard for modern movie musicals. I do admit that I had pretty high hopes for Mamma Mia! with it being one of my favorite stage musicals, so I guess I ultimately may have set myself up for disappointment, but COME ON it was MERYL and AMANDA and COLIN FIRTH. For shame. You could have been good Mamma Mia!…you could have been so good…*Le sigh*.
Look movie musicals, you’ve had your fair share of ups and downs but you do ultimately always deliver a wonderful movie experience, so I’ll give you that. I am beyond excited for Into the Woods and The Last 5 Years coming out later this year starring one of my favorite babes Anna Kendrick (and Meryl again…I think she can nail this one!) so, please just don’t mess this up for me. I need this. I NEED THIS, OKAY?!
Your painfully musical obsessed pal,
Fraisia W. Logan