“If music is the food of love, play on. Give me access to it”
That’s classic Shakespeare right there. You thought this site was all about spaceships and superheroes? No way dude, we’re cultured as well and know all about the Great Bird of Avon himself and the plays he wrote back in the Middle Ages.
But what has this got to do with movies?
Well just look at that quote! It’s all about music and how much he wants to eat it and in the 21st century if you want to eat some music you go and see a musical! Not live, that would awful, but in a multiplex while chewing some popcorn and a hotdog (not a sandwich). It’s what Shakespeare would have wanted.
There have been hundreds of awesome musicals over the years ranging from the really old ones to the quite recent ones. In the early days of cinema there was no color and no sound so the musicals were all black and white and in silence. These were not a great success. But then TECHNICOLOR was invented by combining some TECHnology and some COLOR and, errr, some NI and things really got going.
According to my research the first proper musical was THE WIZARD OF OZ which was about Dorothy and Toto. But she hated Steve Lukather’s overlong guitar solos (hi, Toto nerds!) and took off on her own down the yellow brick road. She wore red shoes, which ironically was the title of another musical (called “The Red Shoes”) and this started a whole slew of footwear-based films such as “DAS BOOT” and some other ones that I’d list if I could think of any.
The next musical after this was MULAN ROUGE ONE. This is a Chinese animated film in which the Rebellion tries to steal the plans to the Death Star (spoiler). Ewan McGregor is in it playing Alec Guinness and he tries to romance Nicole Kidman before she is dead by singing her songs he has copied from other people. It even has a version of Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” in it which would have made Kurt Cobain turn in his grave if he heard it. But luckily he didn’t hear it. Because he was dead.
Anyway MULAN ROUGE is brilliant and was a huge smash hit and director Baz Luhrmann used the film as the perfect springboard to make some much worse films and then disappear forever.
Actually I’ve forgotten an important one. It was called WEST SIDE STORY and was about some sharks and jets fighting. It was made by Asylum as the follow-up to Sharknado and Mega-Shark vs Giant Octopus and was very poorly received by gore fans due to all the songs and the lack of gore, although I think someone gets stabbed at one point, so that was good. Probably Maria.
Did you see La La Land? That one was OK. It starred Emma Stone and one of the Ryans (Reynolds? Gosling? No-one ever knows!) It was a big success and started a run of copycat movies. Ava Ava Avatar, Dun Dun Dunkirk, Gra Gra Gravity and Titanic.
Recently there has been the embarrassing phenomenon of “sing-a-along” movies such as Mamma Mia and The Greatest Show-Off. Audiences flock to these to hear the tunes and join in with their favorites. Unfortunately the singing is abysmal and cringe-making. But enough about Pierce Brosnan! Actually that’s unfair, he was pretty good and those ABBA songs are really tricky, especially the gimme one (“Gimme Gimme Gimme”), the money one (“Money Money Money”) and the somewhat controversial Pearl Harbor one (“Tora Tora Tora”)
What else was there? Must admit that musicals aren’t really my strong suit. I seem to remember that there was that miserable French one, that one based in Chicago (what was that called?) and Dreamgirls and Hairspray. Oh yes, Hairspray! That had John Travolta in it so I can pad things out with a digression into Pulp Fiction. Result!
So as you all know the best musical is Quentin Tarantino’s PULP FICTION. He always puts loads of great songs onto the soundtrack so it totally counts. Plus they have that dance competition at Thumper’s diet club “Fat rabbit, slim!” which was good too. Uma Thurman and Travolta do some great moves to an old Chuck Berry tune. What a great song! I thought I’d tracked it down once but they all sound so similar - how do you know if it’s the right one? You never can tell.
Earlier in the film Mr Blonde cuts off a bloke’s ear while dancing around to “Stuck in the Middle with You”. It is a CLASSIC scene and people always think it is super violent, but the camera pans away during the actually ear-cutting so you never actually see it. It’s a bit like in the SAW films where the camera always cuts away from any violence or gore and leaves everything to your imagination. At least I think that’s what happens. I’m not sure as I never actually SAW (ha-ha!) any of those films. (Editor’s Note: What? Are we actually paying you for this stuff? Come to my office!)
Hang on, I’ve just thought of another one! SCOTT PILGRIM VS THE WORLD. Now THAT is a great film and undiscovered classic and I’m pretty sure it was a musical. It had songs in it anyway.
In the band in the movie Scott plays the bass (the worst of all instruments) and despite being a bassist he actually has some interaction with women, so you know we are in some kind of crazy off-the-wall fantasy world. He spends the whole film chasing and/or dumping Knives (crazy name, crazy gal!) and Ramona who stupidly doesn’t wear a RAMONES t-shirt. That would have been awesome, some real music at last. How did they miss this? EPIC FAIL EDGAR WRIGHT! Everyone loves the Ramones. Who could ever forget their big hit “ONE TWO THREE FOUR”. I saw them live once. They played it 38 times.
There are probably lots of other musicals too, but I don’t want to overload you with too much of my expertise on his fascinating topic, so I think we’ll leave it there.
(Have I got to over 1000 words yet? YES!)
So that wraps up our detailed analysis of movie musicals. I hope you’ve enjoyed it and have learnt as much as I have. Don’t worry, we’ll be back to time-travelling superhero space robots next time.
Love your foxtrot,