Movie Musicals Suck

Posted By Alex

My first movie musical experience (besides Disney movies) was West Side Story. At the time, I didn’t know what a musical was so I had no idea what I was getting into. I thought I was watching a regular movie when these gangsters proceeded to snap their fingers and have a dance off. At this precise point I said to myself, “What the fuck is this shit?” immediately followed by an all caps “WHY?”

Let me repeat…WHY?

Since then, I have had an extreme dislike of musicals. I have given others a chance, like The Sound of Music and Chicago, both of which sucked. The Sound of Music sucked particularly hard. Who watches a three-hour movie that is not Lord of the Rings? It’s mind boggling to me. Chicago had a decent story, but as soon as you’re getting into the drama, someone decides to bust into a dance number. And the all caps “WHY?” starts pirouetting on my frontal lobe.

I am not going to sit here and say that musicals need to go away or that zero skill goes into the dance numbers. I just find the act of placing a dance number in the middle of a tense scene jarring and somewhat pointless. To have my wife try to explain the choreography to me is like trying to learn Japanese from a Portuguese person. Not to imply that she doesn’t know anything about dance, but to me, it’s all just gibberish. She’s basically speaking gibberish about gibberish and I’m just rolling my eyes so hard I go into a seizure.

Because you see, the seizure is supposed to signify my unnatural distaste for musicals. It also has this deep meaning about—oh God, I’m going catatonic!

Ask most guys and they will tell you: musicals are pointless. Please take us to see a rom-com instead. We beg you.

Posted By Wendy

Look, I get it. A lot of musicals can be really cheesy. People get wicked excited about mundane shit. They run around with manic cokeface, singing and dancing their way through racial tension, gang fights, and Nazi takeovers. In real life, if guys started chaine leap-turning into a battle zone, they’d be shot dead faster than you can say “chorus boy.”

But that’s the point. Musicals are not supposed to mirror real life. They are fantasy. They are an exercise in suspending your disbelief. When Will Smith flies an alien aircraft up to the mothership in Independence Day and uploads a 1990’s computer bug that supposedly takes down a super-advanced extraterrestrial society’s technology, then you need to pretend for a second that Jeff Goldblum really is that smart.

A lot of guys I know, including Alex, love their popcorn action films. They can appreciate the effects, the sound, the cinematography, even the choreography of a badass ninja fight. I feel the same way about musicals. When I listen to an uplifting song or watch an intricate dance sequence, I’m blown away by the talent of the actors, actresses, and dancers onscreen. I love to see how a director shoots a particular piece of choreography—zooming in tight on a tap dancer’s foot or going for the overhead shot on a number with kaleidoscope formations. How does the costuming and set design help immerse the viewer in the experience? How does the music enhance the mood of the scene? To me, a musical employs the same kind of eye and ear candy that an action movie does.

What’s that? An Academy Award? Give it to me.

Do musicals make a lot of sense? No. Would anyone in the real world actually sing and dance their way through a murder trial or a drag race? If only. I usually care about realism in movies, but when it comes to musicals, the genre doesn’t try and pretend to be real, so it works. Just like when I watch Harry Potter, I’m not upset that there aren’t witches and wizards and spells and trolls in real life. It’s fantasy! I don’t need to know why Harry can make a broomstick fly and I can’t. I just accept the logic and move on.

And really, when you stop trying to understand the “why” of a musical and enjoy it for its entertainment value, you can actually find some of the most beautiful and moving moments in Hollywood history. In The Sound of Music, when Captain von Trapp gets choked up singing “Edelweiss,” he’s basically saying goodbye to his country and his culture as he knew it. In Gypsy during the raw “Rose’s Turn,” Mama Rose bitterly admits that pushing her children into show business was for her own selfish pursuits. In South Park when Phillip mumbles “suck my balls” at the end of a rousing rendition of “Uncle Fucka,” he puts the perfect punctuation on the most jaw-droppingly obscene musical number to open a movie in the last 50 years.

I’m not asking everyone to love musicals. But a little appreciation from my husband would be nice. I do think that many of them have a lot more to offer your stereotypical rom-com. Just close your eyes and pretend you’re watching Transformers dance battle their way to victory over the Decepticons.

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30 Responses to “Movie Musicals Suck”

  1. alex

    I don’t know if I would call anything in The Sound of Music moving or beautiful. More like, unnecessary.

  2. Amanda

    I’m a sucker for a musical. Mostly older ones though. Mary Poppins and Sound of Music are my favorites. Julie Andrews I feel had some killer vocal skills. Oh and some of those Babs films too.

    Plus I can’t always make it to those plays on Broadway so I think the film industry have done wonders adding them to film so that everyone can enjoy them.

  3. echavez

    I personally hate musicals in general but i can admit some i have seen are good movies. I personally think Chicago, Dream Girls and a few others were pretty good movies. I even think they deserve the awards they receive. But at the end of the day, i am not looking forward to any musicals coming to the theaters.

    • Gaby

      +1,000,001 and ily for watching those with me…and for almost taking me to watch the Lion King in NYC.

      • Gaby

        fyi the +1,000,001 is for admitting that some musicals are good, not because you hate them in general.

  4. Melvin Loves Musicals

    I can admit that I love musicals. I love singing and listening to people sing, whether they are singing live or on the silver screen. It’s pure aural pleasure to me ;-)

  5. DavidB

    Jinx! Buy me a coke.

    I don’t usually like musicals. Just too much cheese for me, I guess. Although for a week once I did watch Phantom of the Opera like every day. I don’t know what that was. Musical episodes of TV shows I like are usually pretty bad, too, although the one in Buffy was pretty damn funny.

    I’d have to say South Park is the only musical I really enjoyed, just because those guys are filthy and hilarious geniuses at times.

    • Ozzy

      The only TV musical I ever enjoyed was the one SCRUBS did. “Its guys love, that’s all it is!”

  6. Gaby

    I don’t see how any more cheesy and unrealistic musicals are in comparison to Lord of the Rings and Transformers. The only difference I see here is your taste in one genre versus another. Musicals have a special place in my heart and just because we’ve seen Transformers 2 and GI Joe, I think it’s only fair we all go watch Les Miserables this December ftw. :)

  7. Scott

    I’ve always considered West Side Story the greatest artistic creation produced by any American in our culture’s history. But then again, I’ve never considered West Side a musical – it’s far too complex to be lumped in with others in that genre. Five point counterpoint, harmonies that stretch the boundaries of tonality and yet still produce memorable tunes and a rhythmic ingenuity that defies description – it’s all there. The Quintet that is the penultimate piece in the first act is pure genius – and the movie does a brilliant job of depicting the five different parts going on at the same time.

    But in terms of other musicals, I think it matters if the music happens, for lack of a better word, organically or inorganically. Do the characters just break out in song, or is the music woven in the scene in a way where you might expect someone to sing or dance? Glee, a good barometer for this argument, sometimes does this very well, and sometimes in a cheesy way sure to turn off those who hate movie musicals.

  8. Gaby

    The worse thing about West Side Story is the bad Puerto Rican accents by some of the actors. “Say it no tru! Say it no tru!” Other than that, I agree with Wendy’s argument. And with Amanda. $12 at your local cinema is more affordable than a trip to a big city to watch it live. Plus, some musical numbers are incredible and couldn’t be recreated on stage. “We Both Reached for the Gun” in Chicago was amazing. The choreography was awesome but may have been hard to follow in the same way on stage. I find that there are some musical numbers that help make the sentiment of the scene. I get chills just thinking about or hearing “A little fall of rain” and can’t wait to watch it in December.

  9. Melvin Loves Musicals

    So after all this talk about musicals, I felt like watching one. Has anyone seen Rock of Ages? Oh emm gee… Incredible remakes and mashups of great classic rock jams. Check it out if you get a chance.

  10. Ravi

    Musicals are good.Like good movie, bad movie, some of musical are good and some aren’t. you just cant category all are bad. Listening to various music is okay, when the same music is in a movie, whats wrong in it. I know i’m out of the movie league.

  11. Ethomson92

    Rocky Horror Picture Show is a great musical for people who hate things like West Side Story and Chicago because it’s hilarious.


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