The Singing Detective

A Film Review By Jason L. King

Rating: Rated R for language and sexual content.
Starring:Robert Downey Jr., Adrien Brody, Mel Gibson
Directed By:Edward Zwick

Final Grade:

Last year Chicago swept away with Oscars nominations by the millions and it was clear in everyone’s mind that America was ready for the return of the musical. A slew of musicals were in production and suddenly rushed to the big screen. With musicals in production expect to see Rent, Phantom of the Opera and a few more not as recognizable titles hitting theaters this year.

The Singing Detective is one of these lesser known musical titles, and it marks the return of allegedly drug free Robert Downey Jr. Downey plays Dan Dark, a writer who writes detective novels. But when Dan comes down with a case of psoriasis his mind begins inserting himself in one of his own detective novels. The only way Dan can cure his psoriasis is by solving the “mystery” in his mind, and figuring out what in his real life is causing his disease. The only problem for Dan is sorting out what is real, and what is only in his mind.

The story of the singing detective is not something some crazed American came up with, but instead some crazed British guy. The Singing Detective was originally a BBC series about a mystery novelist who was prone to musical outbursts. The series did fairly well in Britain, but the creators were for sure that a BBC series would never be seen by the American public. So the creators adapted a screenplay to the big screen and cast Robert Downey Jr. with the lead role.

The Singing Detective has it’s ups and downs, and it’s positives and negatives. Robert Downey Jr. does a nice job and fits the role perfectly, both as the crazed man in a hospital bed, and the singing gumshoe from his latest novel. Downey was the perfect choice, because he pulls everything together so well. Cameo appearances by Mel Gibson, and Academy Award Winning Adrien Brody also make for the colorful cast of characters of the film.

The problem with the singing detective is that it tries to combine a entire miniseries into a two hour movie. Story lines jump from reality to fantasy in a millisecond and a lot of times it forgets to take the audience with them. Plus when you are trying to combine so much into a short time span, things end up on the cutting room floor, and scenes that would have enhanced the plot ended up missing from the movie all together.

The director tries his hardest to take the audience into the mind of Dan Dark and tries to help you keep things straight. His attempt ends up having him fall flat on his face because of minor plot holes. In the end it isn’t the directors fault and it isn’t the actors fault but instead the less than par screenplay. In the end, the Singing Detective isn’t as good as it could be. It has the potential to be a great movie, but just falls short. It’s far from completed plot line and not well enough developed characters make this movie way too mediocre to truly enjoy.

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