Along with a pair from the big screen, we dip into a trio of made for TV tuners in our look back at the movie musicals of 2016.
1978’s Grease is one of the most popular movie musicals of all time, so they had big shoes to fill, and they pulled it off… mostly. High School Musical’s good girl Vanessa Hudgens stole the show as Pink Lady Rizzo, while boy-next-door Aaron Tveit was miscast as greaser Danny. The producers smartly included the movie’s original songs (you know everyone wanted "You're the One That I Want"), but bombed with a number written for a stunt cast Carly Rae Jepsen. Even so, in the end Grease was still the word. (7/10)
Following Once and Begin Again, director John Carney delivers another musical mini-masterpiece with this charmingly romantic tale set in 1980s Dublin. Fresh-faced newcomer Ferdia Walsh-Peelo plays the typical teenager who forms a band to impress a girl, the difference being that he is actually talented, a surprise to him as it is anyone else. Original, period perfect pop songs (such as the standout, better-be-Oscar nominated “Drive It Like You Stole It”) and appropriately cheesy music videos add to the fun, retro vibe. (8/10)
|The Dance at the Gym|
…The Rocky Horror Picture Show: Let’s Do the Time Warp Again:
Fox had been threatening a remake of the original midnight movie cult phenomenon for years and finally delivered it last October… was it a trick or a treat? A little bit of both, actually. It really was a treat to see Laverne Cox let loose and totally camp out as Frank N. Furter, and the reimagined opening number was vintage cool. Less of a treat was the horrible idea to incorporate (fake) audience participation, and the hyper-choreographed “Time Warp” was an assault on the senses. (6/10)
|Kiss and Makeup|
Way back in 1988, who knew that John Waters’ quirky little indie Hairspray would become such a pop culture staple? Remixing the best of the Broadway musical with its 2007 film adaptation is one thing, but the most important reason for the necessity of this third filmed version was to finally preserve the Tony winning performance of Harvey Fierstein as big mamma Edna Turnblad on film. Hopefully you did like I did and fast-forwarded through all that “live viewing party” nonsense during its original broadcast. (7/10)
|Twist and Shout|
…La La Land:
Mixing influences from such movie musical masters as Donen, Minnelli and especially Jacques Demy, Damien Chazelle creates a truly original post-millennium musical that is also a bittersweet rumination on fame, love and the road not taken. Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone take the stock characters of the brooding jazz musician and the aspiring actress and deliver winning, fresh performances as real people in a world just like our own... except for all the breaking into song and that dance number in the middle of a L.A. traffic jam. Not just a valentine to the its titular "city of stars", but a love letter to all us "fools who dream". (9/10)
|Dancing with the Stars|
Reviews by Kirby Holt, Movie Dearest creator, editor and head writer.