Movie musicals to convert even the biggest musical holdouts
There’s a movie opening this weekend that everyone should be excited about. No, I’m not talking about THAT movie, That Movie That Shall Not Be Named (but is about the color grey). I’m talking about what, in my humble musical opinion, is one of the best musicals ever written, that is now coming to the big screen: The Last 5 Years. It is the most simple, and most complicated, musical love story maybe ever written. It’s a story told in both forward, and reverse. Also, if you’re not already excited, Anna Kendrick is the lead, and she sings, so basically the movie is already perfect and everyone should check out out.
Musicals, and movie musicals, just aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, though. Many musical connoisseurs scoff at the idea of a musical being made for the big screen. But you know what I say? BRING ‘EM ON. It’s not like getting over to Broadway is just a hop, skip, and a jump away. Sometimes, I just want to see musicals in the comfort of my own living room, and there are so many awesome movie musicals out there that it makes it ridiculously easy to never leave my home for a matinee.
So after you check out The Last 5 Years, it’s about time you warm up to these other movie musicals, too.
Having seen both the stage version and movie version of West Side Story, the movie wins, hands down. To tell a story about New York you need a stage as big as New York, and that can only be conveyed through film. Besides, the first time the Jets and Sharks meet up needs to be epic. Some things just work better on the screen than the stage, and West Side Story is one of them.
The movie that started the whole movie musical renaissance of today. No one probably predicted that it would swoop in, and swoop out with all the awards (it won six Oscars, including Best Picture, along with three Golden Globes—and one of those was for Best Picture, too). Plus, it’s impossible not to be completely moved by John C. Riley’s performance of Mr. Cellophane, because it stays with you for days afterwards.
Anything involving Barbra Streisand should be required viewing as is. Funny Girl is loosely based on the real-life story of Broadway star Fanny Brice, and Streisand actually played Fanny on both the stage and the screen (she was nominated for a Tony for the role, but ended up winning an Oscar instead). At one point, there’s even a song done completely on roller skates. Seriously, you try doing that.
Scoff and laugh all you want, but High School Musical 3: Senior Year is a GREAT MOVIE. A lot of musicals have really heavy themes and plots, but everything about HSM3 is all fun and games. If you have a little sister or a little niece who’s already caught the musical bug, this is a great movie to sit down and watch with her. Besides, even if it does get a little bit corny at times, you do still have a singing Zac Efron.
My Fair Lady was first a stage play (called Pygmalion). Then, it became a film adaptation. Then that film adaption was made into a stage musical. AND THEN that stage musical became a musical movie. Many moons later, My Fair Lady became the basis for She’s All That, but that’s neither here nor there. This 1964 movie musical has Audrey Hepburn in the role of Eliza Doolittle, where she’s basically given a complete makeover to make her more “presentable.” Only bummer about the movie is that Hepburn didn’t sing herself (even though she TOTALLY sang a little bit in Breakfast at Tiffany’s)—she’s dubbed over by singer Marni Nixon. You still need to watch this movie, though, because My Fair Lady is adapted and altered all the time, and the original is a must-see to understand the subsequent greatness.
Here are some great things about Little Shop of Horrors: It’s directed by master Muppet puppeteer (and Yoda) Frank Oz. Alan Menken and writer Howard Ashman did the music for the musical, which then made its way to the screen. It stars Rick Moranis and Steve Martin. Bill Murray makes a cameo. Oh, it’s also about a giant human-eating plant. But, you know, it has a happy ending and all (and a much happier ending than the original musical).
Listen, they don’t make movies like Footlight Parade anymore. So basically, we have to cherish these kinds of moves, which involve HUGE production numbers, synchronized swimming, and James Cagney. There’s not as much singing in this one as other musicals, but with what it lacks in lyrics, it makes up for in insane dance numbers. Honestly, there should be a petition out there to get movies like this mainstream again.
Do you ever wish there could be more movie musicals involving our founding fathers? Well, if that’s what you’re looking for, you’re in luck. 1776 is all about them. Bonus, Mr. Feeny—William Daniels—plays John Adams. Who said a musical can’t be a little education?
Nothing will ever compare to the original Mel Brooks’ Producers, with Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder. Nothing will ever compare to Mel Brooks’ musical adaption of the Producers, staring Matthew Broderick and Nathan Lane. But if something needs to come really close to it, that would have to be the movie turned musical turned movie-musical version of The Producers. The Producers is great, and it’s one of those musicals that everyone just needs to see because it’s about the desire to have more out of life (which we can all relate to). Plus, Ferris Bueller singing, “I Want To Be A Producer” is simply the best.
Imma let all these other movie musicals finish, but Singing In The Rain is the best movie musical ever made. Not only is Gene Kelly a total dreamboat, but the movie is so funny, vibrant, and well done that you forget everyone keeps bursting into song. The movie even makes a long elaborate joke about bursting into song (the “Gotta Dance” number, one of the best show-stopping performances ever). Everyone seems to know the song “Singing In the Rain,” but do you even know why he’s singing in the rain? Did you know that the movie’s actually about Old Hollywood, and silent film stars? No? Then you gotta check out this movie ASAP.