A Film Review By Michael Haley

Starring: Anthony Rapp, Adam Pascal, Rosario Dawson, Idina Menzel, Taye Diggs, Wilson Jermaine Heredia, Tracie Thoms
Directed By: Chris Columbus
Rated: PG-13 for some strong language, sexual innuendos and themes, general irreverence.

Final Grade:

Box Office Bullet Points: The Movie In A Nutshell

*This left Movies 12 fairly quickly, so this is for those who are deciding whether or not to see it at the mall or rent it when it comes out on DVD.

*Generally speaking, it’s a lot like the Broadway show, with a few song trims/deletions, some plot points being rearranged, etc. Purists will complain that too much was changed, but in my opinion, criticizing the film’s deviation from the stage show is analogous to criticizing a man on the basis that he is not as similar to his brother as he should be. Therefore, I’ll leave the adaptation debate for another time, another place, another day..

*Rosario Dawson is looking really good in this role. Really good.

*Excellent songs (I should hope so, since 80% of the film is sung). In particular, La Vie Bohemme, I’ll Cover You, and Light My Candle are fantastic, and Take Me or Leave Me is a tour de force from Joanne’s replacement for the film played by Tracie Thoms.

*Maureen’s “protest” piece, disguised as the song “Jump Over the Moon” is excruciatingly bad. Basically bad performance art (didn’t know such a thing existed) that, through really awful poetry, purports to say more than it does and believes itself to be very hip by doing so. This is an excellent time to go the bathroom.

*Angel is a terrific character. Benny’s transition to screen doesn’t give him a heck of lot to work with.

*The ordering of the plot makes a second viewing (for those who had not seen the stage musical) necessary to understand what the hell Angel is singing about in “Today for You, Tomorrow for Me.”

*Ironic that in filming a film with singing transvestites, Chris Columbus may have made his manliest film yet

As a film in relation to other musicals, there’s nothing that really separates Rent from anything else apart from its willingness (albeit a willingness I’m delighted with!) to incorporate homosexuals, transvestites, drug addiction and AIDS as worthy characters/dilemmas worth singing about. However, there is just something about it that I have not been able to get out of my head since I saw the musical four years ago, and the film just recently four times over. It’s a really exhilarating piece of work, sung passionately, told with conviction, and I find myself getting emotionally involved with the characters every time (even though none of them are really any good at what they either do or wish to before they die). Plus, I just gotta love any musical that includes a shout out to Langston Hughes and Antonioni in the same song.

As a musical, it’s a good film. This is by no means a replacement for the experience of the musical on stage, but it is a fine companion all the same. Flawed—maybe. For every single human being on this planet—no. But whatever. As a personal experience, its one of my favorites I’ve had in quite some time, and judging from friends, co-workers (for Kloppy the whole Rent saga is borderline gospel) and others on the Net, this is one that will sing to its audience for quite some time.

The Verdict:
In nine words: Good enough movie for most, truly special for some

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