Unfortunately, I was unbelievably disappointed in this movie. During the opening credits I was getting chills remembering people from high school I performed with and hearing voices of friends singing those words– I felt like applauding after the opening song. It went downhill from there.
It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what I didn’t like about this movie. I hated that they cut out songs. I hated that they changed the lyrics of some songs to fit the altered sequence of the scenes. It was like when you watch your favorite movie on TV and they edit out scenes and partial scenes in order to make it fit into a time slot. The first red flag should have been the PG-13 rating. I should have known that whatever story/lyrics/staging Chris Columbus and Steve Chbosky edited out of the original show in order to earn a PG-13 rating had to have been a step in the wrong direction. This show– done correctly– would have been rated R or NC-17. Of course, that would have prevented it from making any money… which was clearly the only goal in production.
While I appreciate that so many of the original Broadway Cast played their roles in the movie– that didn’t save it. These people are STAGE ACTORS. Musical theater is not supposed to be realistic– the way they over-dramatize everything BELONGS on the STAGE. Translating this show to film just looks silly. You can get away with a lot more drama on the stage than you can get away with on film. This story should have stayed on the stage.
Each scene just ENDED, just like on the stage– yet on stage there would be lighting and applause to fill the scene-change and there would be no awkward silence.
I’m sure that it’s already made a profit (i hope it has at least served THAT purpose), and I’m sure that there are enough current and past high school drama kids that love the music to keep the theaters packed for awhile. And I must admit that despite being distracted by the movie itself– the same songs that always meant something to me, made me smile during the show. I always fight the urge to giggle through “Out Tonight” because I think of Lauren center stage in the theater doing free-lance interp. And “Seasons of Love” has all kinds of memories attached to it. However, aside from my own personal memories, this film evoked absolutely no emotional response from me (excpet maybe disappointment and annoyance). It was difficult to care about any of the characters, the characters were barely distinguishable as they were so underdeveloped, and I felt no sympathy, happiness, sorrow, or love for ANY of them. Maybe if Roger’s girlfriend killing herself had been left in the story the audience would understand his being such a mopey brat the whole time. Or maybe cutting out the entire song “Halloween” (one of my top three favorites in the show) was a mistake as this song really voices Mark’s inspiration to make the documentary of the 8 of them. Character development was lacking to say the least– and not for lack of opportunity.
I love this show and I LOVE the music– but this movie somehow made the story of RENT cheesy. Sadly, I think Jonathan Larson would be disappointed in this perversion of his work. How pathetic that Hollywood has to resort to ruining art in order to make money. If you want to see the show, see the show. If you like the music, take a drive and pop in the soundtrack. If you MUST see a musical on film, I recommend “Phantom of the Opera” or “Grease”. Don’t waste your time on this crappy, disappointing movie more likely to sweep the Razzies than even DREAM of the oscars.