The 21st Century Stage-to-film Musicals in Order of Quality

by andrew-gillespie5000 | created - 15 Aug 2012 | updated - 16 Aug 2012 | Public
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1. Hairspray (2007)

PG | 117 min | Comedy, Drama, Music

81 Metascore

Pleasantly plump teenager Tracy Turnblad teaches 1962 Baltimore a thing or two about integration after landing a spot on a local TV dance show.

Director: Adam Shankman | Stars: John Travolta, Queen Latifah, Nikki Blonsky, Michelle Pfeiffer

Votes: 107,264 | Gross: $118.87M

A brilliant film made up of a smart, hysterical, killer screenplay, flawless direction, intricate choreography, and an impeccable unknown in the leading role, Hairspray is and always will rank as Adam Shankman's masterpiece. Nikki Blonksy holds the whole film on her shoulders and is supported by brilliant work from John Travolta, Michelle Pfeiffer, Amanda Bynes, Christopher Walken, and James Marsden. Queen Latifah and Zac Efron also show great acting chops that were never explored prior to this. This is about as fun as the movies get and will leave you dancing down the aisle.

2. Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007)

R | 116 min | Drama, Horror, Musical

83 Metascore

The infamous story of Benjamin Barker, aka Sweeney Todd, who sets up a barber shop in London which is the basis for a sinister partnership with his fellow tenant, Mrs. Lovett.

Director: Tim Burton | Stars: Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Alan Rickman, Timothy Spall

Votes: 308,971 | Gross: $52.90M

Tim Burton directs this gothic horror opera as if he'd done it a thousand times before. He brings with him Helena Bonham Carter and Johnny Depp, performing in a way that they never have before. It's gloriously gross, and sentimentally resonant, all while you still manage to have fun. The twisted humor of the stage show is even more present here and while it dows seem stagy at times, it's all beneficial to the overal production. The film also has stylish visuals and beautiful set designs reeling you into the depressing holiday treat you are watching.

3. Chicago (2002)

PG-13 | 113 min | Comedy, Crime, Musical

82 Metascore

Murderesses Velma Kelly and Roxie Hart find themselves on death row together and fight for the fame that will keep them from the gallows in 1920s Chicago.

Director: Rob Marshall | Stars: Renée Zellweger, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Richard Gere, Taye Diggs

Votes: 191,222 | Gross: $170.69M

This film redefined the movie musical. It also brought them back on the map. Rob Marshall cleverly takes us into the mind of antiheroine Roxie Hart, portrayed by a fantastic Renee Zellweger, and shows us the exciting, grandiose musical numbers without taking the viewers out of reality. Even when we are not in the musical numbers, the costume and set designs are stunning, and Catherine Zeta-Jones steals every scene she's in. Also good work comes from Richard Gere, Queen Latifah, and Christine Baranski. John C. Reilly is a bit of a weak point, but he serves his purpose.

4. Dreamgirls (2006)

PG-13 | 130 min | Drama, Music, Musical

76 Metascore

A trio of black female soul singers cross over to the pop charts in the early 1960s, facing their own personal struggles along the way.

Director: Bill Condon | Stars: Beyoncé, Jamie Foxx, Eddie Murphy, Danny Glover

Votes: 61,780 | Gross: $103.37M

Overall, this was a decent film. I'm going to start with it's faults, because there are several. Beyonce was miscast. There. I said it. I think she was cast specifically so she could sing "Listen". Also Jamie Foxx didn't bring enough to his character for which was supposedly the lead. It also had a slow pace and not enough story arc to be involving. Now, these things are for the most part excused because of the good things. First, I'll start with the obvious: Jennifer Hudson was so good in this film, I cannot even begin to describe it. Her take on "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going" was one of the most brilliant musical sequences ever put on film, a well-deserved Oscar. Another thing, Eddie Murphy was a delightful surprise. He was fun, funny, but also subtle. Also the costume designs were fantastic as was the score and the song "Listen". Overall, pretty good film.

5. Repo! The Genetic Opera (2008)

R | 98 min | Horror, Musical, Sci-Fi

32 Metascore

A worldwide epidemic encourages a biotech company to launch an organ-financing program similar in nature to a standard car loan. The repossession clause is a killer, however.

Director: Darren Lynn Bousman | Stars: Paul Sorvino, Anthony Head, Alexa PenaVega, Sarah Brightman

Votes: 21,650 | Gross: $0.14M

This was a gross, weird, gothic rock opera that perfectly fits the "so-bad-it's-good" genre. It's so bizarre and outrageous that you just can't help but smile through it. The songs are forgettable but bouncy at the same time, the atmospheres and set designs are incredibly stylish and spooky, and it has a handful of good performances. I'll just go down the line. Alexa Vega was horrible in the leading role. She had some good expressions, but her singing voice was atrocious. Anthony Head was fantastic as the twisted, torn antihero Nathan. He acted epically and sang beautifully. Sarah Brightman and Terrence Zdunich also turn in good work. But the real revelation is Paris Hilton. She embodies the role of spoiled attention seeking Amber perfectly. People unfairly judged her because she was Paris Hilton, but she turned in a good performance.

6. Mamma Mia! (2008)

PG-13 | 108 min | Comedy, Musical, Romance

51 Metascore

The story of a bride-to-be trying to find her real father told using hit songs by the popular 1970s group ABBA.

Director: Phyllida Lloyd | Stars: Meryl Streep, Pierce Brosnan, Amanda Seyfried, Stellan Skarsgård

Votes: 163,981 | Gross: $144.13M

Pierce Brosnan is atrocious in this film in every way. His voice is just so bad. All though the same can really be said for everyone involved, save Seyfried, Streep, and Baranski. Sure Walters and Baranski offer some fun witty banter, and the Greek chorus is pretty funny, but overall the film is just an excuse to get big budget stars to sing ABBA and to make Amanda Seyfried famous. However, The Greatest Actress of All Time does give a light, humorous performance that makes us excited during songs such as Dancing Queen and Mamma Mia. She also has some beautiful ballads such as The Winner Takes it All and Slipping Through my Fingers. It's just fluffy. But a little too fluffy.

7. Rent (2005)

PG-13 | 135 min | Drama, Musical, Romance

53 Metascore

This is the film version of the Pulitzer and Tony Award winning musical about Bohemians in the East Village of New York City struggling with life, love and AIDS, and the impacts they have on America.

Director: Chris Columbus | Stars: Taye Diggs, Wilson Jermaine Heredia, Rosario Dawson, Anthony Rapp

Votes: 44,709 | Gross: $29.08M

Rent is my all time favorite Broadway musical. Period. But this movie just sucks. It takes out all of the raw emotion and heart that makes you care. Chris Columbus might be the worst director of all time, save for Joel Shumacher, but more on him later. His direction is so lazy here. In "Another Day", half of the song is just Mimi standing on the street singing to the balcony. Nothing else. Just standing. Also he made the genius decision to cast the original stage actors in the film. These people are stage actors for a reason. They have no screen presence and no facial expressions through the whole thing. A special shout out goes to Adam Pascal who is particularly bad. The film also cuts out crucial scenes such as "Goodbye Love" and "Halloween" that makes the story seem contrived and ridiculous. The only redemption this film has is it's quiet hero Rosario Dawson. She brings the slightest bit of emotion to the whole thing and acts her butt off, as if doing it for everyone else. Overall, a missed oppurtunity.

8. Rock of Ages (2012)

PG-13 | 123 min | Comedy, Drama, Musical

47 Metascore

A small town girl and a city boy meet on the Sunset Strip, while pursuing their Hollywood dreams.

Director: Adam Shankman | Stars: Julianne Hough, Diego Boneta, Tom Cruise, Alec Baldwin

Votes: 66,963 | Gross: $38.52M

It's not a good stage show, so why would it make a good movie? This film is just like Mamma Mia!, an excuse to see big movie stars sing 80's hits and wear wigs. The film is too silly for it's own good. Tom Cruise is great, but other than that, there is just nothing good to say about it. It seems Shankman is trying to duplicate his Hairspray success and just falls flat on his face. It's not so bad it's good. It almost is. But it's not. Nice try, good effort. Try again next time.

9. Nine (2009)

PG-13 | 118 min | Drama, Musical, Romance

49 Metascore

Famous film director Guido Contini struggles to find harmony in his professional and personal lives, as he engages in dramatic relationships with his wife, his mistress, his muse, his agent, and his mother.

Director: Rob Marshall | Stars: Daniel Day-Lewis, Marion Cotillard, Penélope Cruz, Sandro Dori

Votes: 39,799 | Gross: $19.66M

Boring. Boring, boring, boring. No good performances, sloppy direction. Rob Marshall tried to redo Chicago on a different soudstage, but without the clever mind trick. It made it all unbelievable. A low point for everyone involved. It's sad when Fergie is the most interesting thing in your film.

10. The Phantom of the Opera (2004)

PG-13 | 143 min | Drama, Musical, Romance

40 Metascore

A young soprano becomes the obsession of a disfigured musical genius who lives beneath the Paris Opéra House. He kidnaps the soprano and forces the owners of the play to keep her as the lead role of the play.

Director: Joel Schumacher | Stars: Gerard Butler, Emmy Rossum, Patrick Wilson, Miranda Richardson

Votes: 104,965 | Gross: $51.27M

Talk about boring. Nothing happens in this film. Gerard Butler is worse than Pierce Brosnan. The story is almost nonexistent. Nothing is explored the way it should be and nothing falls into place. The audience is left in the dark for too long with no payoff. Who is the Phantom? Why does he like Christine? Come on. The film is pretty to look at, I'll give it that. But without a cohesive narrative structure, all of the visuals are for nothing. Also when turning lyrics into dialogue, you might want to actually change the lyrics into dialogue. People don't speak in rhyme.

11. The Producers (2005)

PG-13 | 134 min | Comedy, Musical

52 Metascore

After putting together another Broadway flop, down-on-his-luck Producer Max Bialystock teams up with timid accountant Leo Bloom in a get-rich-quick scheme to put on the world's worst show.

Director: Susan Stroman | Stars: Nathan Lane, Matthew Broderick, Uma Thurman, Will Ferrell

Votes: 37,305 | Gross: $19.38M

A filmed version of the stage musical. That's all. Lane and Broderick overact in nearly every scene and each scene looks like it's on a stage and the acting shows it, too. Poorly done. Uninteresting.