Contemporary rethinking of the legendary Broadway musical and 1962 film, updated to reflect a few early twenty-first-century sensibilities: A masterful con artist tries to bilk a staid ... See full summary »
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Harry Connick Jr.,
In this hilarious tweaking of the fairy tale, "The Princess and the Pea", Queen Aggravain has ruled that none may marry until her son, Prince Dauntless marries. However, she has managed to ... See full summary »
Contemporary rethinking of the legendary Broadway musical and 1962 film, updated to reflect a few early twenty-first-century sensibilities: A masterful con artist tries to bilk a staid Midwestern community, with unexpected results. Written by
Someone once said it best years ago... "Why do they remake the good ones?? Why don't they go back and redo the ones that weren't good the first time?" People often (reluctantly) admit that they miss the glory days of the screen musical (and they're on the cusp of making a comeback), but at this rate, the genre will be dead and buried within another year! This atrocious, wrongheaded TV remake really has only one thing going for it. The producers wisely decided to leave the script (mostly) alone. The actual shooting script is extremely close to the stage version. But it's all for naught! The casting, cinematography, lighting, acting, singing and direction are in almost all cases ghastly. It is blasphemy to even mention Robert Preston's name (or even Shirley Jones'!) in the same breath as this train wreck, but Broderick never stood a chance at topping him. Trouble is....he couldn't even top high school actors who have tackled this role! He is so wrong for the part that it's startling and distracting. His expression in the numbers is that of someone who was walking by and accidentally got caught up in them instead of someone who's instigating them. The inherently talented, but helium-voiced Chenowith is not much better. Saddled with a hairstyle that looks like either a dishwater-colored mop or a new perm she isn't allowed to wash yet, she sings her songs in the currently popular Broadway style. That is to say she oversings them with forced emotion, shrill vibrato, horrible annunciation ("Sweeedreams be yours dear") and no regard for the time and place. Her hair nearly does her in. The stylists on this film obviously have no idea that a performer's primary tool is her FACE. When it's obscured by hair (not helped by the murky lighting), the expression is muted. (For proof, look how much more attractive and bright she seems when hats shove the unruly curls away and leave just her features on view.) The whole film is muted. None of the numbers end with a bang. They all fizzle out and die. There is little or no build to them. No punch. Song after song after SONG is derailed by lackluster presentation and no sense of excitement or energy. Also, the production design is deadly. This is not "The Grapes of Wrath" or even "Little House on the Prairie"! The dusty reality of an early town is unwelcome here. The story is a FABLE (a Pied Piper who winds up having a heart) and should look the way we wish it had been, not the way it was. The original film was a flawless candy box of color and character and splendor. This version is a washed out, lifeless, drab, "why bother" mess. A decision was made to remove makeup from nearly all the characters. So Shannon's expressions (which are merely toned down versions of her Mary Catherine Gallagher persona anyway) don't come across. Chenowith lisps her lines into the blank, pie face of Broderick whose eyes are unlined dots lost in a sea of childlike flesh. Yet Monk, as Chenowith's mother, looks like she's ready for the Emmys! Monk does okay and the little boy is all right, but Garber approaches his character as if he's completely unfamiliar with the material. There are a few teeny touches that are clever, but their merit is erased by the many other moments which are botched (the marbles in the library, the piano lesson punchline, to name just two.) "Bye Bye Birdie" and "Annie" were decent enough, but "Cinderella" (with Brandi and Whitney slaughtering every song) and "South Pacific" (with the 60-year-old Nellie Forbush) were rotten. This joins the latter pile. Pray that Shirley Jones was out the night this was broadcast. It is a travesty! Fears now persist that this breed of musical interlopers will do more harm to "Mame" than even Lucille Ball did in 1974! Please let there be a way to prevent "West Side Story" and "The Sound of Music" from being dimmed by this horrific trend of haphazardly remaking and updating classic works!! (One note: WHY is this film rated a 7.9 today when nearly every comment is -rightfully- negative?!?!)
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