I didn’t get the showtunes gene. I have very little interest in seeing Dreamgirls. OK, I’d like to see Jennifer Hudson’s performance but they probably charge you for the whole movie and not on a per-actor basis.
I can’t get my head around the artificiality of musicals. I’m perfectly happy watching robots and spacecraft zip across the screen but when an actress jumps on a table and starts belting out how she’s going to wash that man right out of her hair I lose interest. There have been a few exceptions, but I think they started with the music and then back-filled the dancing and a little bit of plot. Grease comes to mind but that’s more camp than theater or musical.
I can watch a big broadway show and be wow’ed by the sheer spectacle of it all but somehow it doesn’t move me. I’ll Cover You did manage to peek through and pierce the noisy clutter of Rent but the rest has faded away.
Music should be swelling in the background. I can only of one exception that truly worked. There’s a scene in Magnolia when the characters begin to sing along to Aimee Mann’s soundtrack. It was an odd, jarring moment but somehow appropriate. I liked the moments of reflection with each character pausing and sighing to her melancholy notes. It was unnatural and edgy and surreal enough to cap the movie.
Maybe that’s the issue for me, musicals don’t acknowledge the fact that if you were to sing out loud on a crowded subway platform everyone else would slowly back away from you.