A fan of the movie musical

As most of you know, I was pretty pumped to see Mamma Mia this weekend as it opened in theaters from coast-to-coast. Several people asked me what I thought about the film. Of course, this is AFTER they realized I paid $7 to see a movie musical instead of Batman, but that’s neither here or there.

Did I like the movie? I give it an affectionate, “Meh.” Which translates into a B- in my book.

I love movie musicals. I grew up singing and dancing to Sound of Music, Bye Bye Birdie, Singin’ in the Rain, Grease…One and Two. Clearly I am hard core. I’m pretty sure that I am able to give an accurate position when grading current movie musicals.

It’s simple really. I ask myself, “Would I buy the DVD? Would I purchase the soundtrack?”

For instance, if the opportunity arose, I could have Madonna singing, “Don’t Cry For Me Argentina” in 2.5 seconds. Do I own the whole Evita album? No. Do I own the movie? No.

Here’s another example: Joseph and His Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat starring the effervescent Donny Osmond. Do I own the movie? Yes. HOWEVER…it’s in VHS format, which is a great big red flag that I don’t love it THAT much, or I would have upgraded to DVD by now.

You see where I’m going here? Donny and Madonna are certainly worthy…but I’m not a die hard fan of their musicals.

In the last 20 years, I think there have been five modern movie musicals that are worthy of both soundtrack and DVD purchase. It’s been extremely difficult and a little painful, but I have narrowed it down and they ARE in a particular order. Again…there will be no judging on this website. And please note that this does NOT count animated movies. We would be here all day if that was the case. Am I right?

#5: Dreamgirls
Jennifer Hudson singing, “And I’m Telling You I’m Not Going” is one of my favorite songs. I also like how I am able to channel my inner black woman when I sing the closing “Dreamgirls” number. It’s amazing. Especially in my car. Trust me.

#4: Moulin Rouge
C’mon people. Ewan McGregor? “Elephant Song Medley,” “Come What May” and “Your Song.” One of the few movies that Nicole Kidman doesn’t get on my nerves. Definite plus.

#3: Chicago
I must have been brain dead when this came out, because I never saw it in the theater. But when I rented it for the first time, I believe I bought the CD and DVD the very next day. One of the few CDs that I enjoy every song. I love “All That Jazz,” “Cell Block Tango” and “Mr. Cellophane.”

#2: Hairspray
Love the entire movie. Love the entire soundtrack. Everyone was perfectly cast. In fact, I think I prefer John Travolta as a large, curvy woman. And Michelle Pfeiffer hasn’t been THIS good since Grease 2. Oh yeah…I went there.

#1: Newsies
I know what you are thinking. “Seriously Lincee? You put Disney’s 1992 mega hit (in my eyes) as your first place movie musical in the last 20 years?”

My answer would be, “Heck yes!” But just to be sure, I called my friend Jill.

Jill: “Hello?”
Lincee: “I have a question for you. If you had to rank movie musicals that came out in the last 20 years, what would be…”

She answers before I have time to finish my sentence:

ANNIE! Oh I loved that movie. I remember…”

I interrupt her.

Lincee: “I know! It’s one of my top ones too, but the rule is the last 20 years.”
Jill: “Right. Annie. With Aileen Quinn? That has to be your number one.”

Lincee: “Annie came out in 1982.”

I believe Jill’s words were, “Shut up.” Or something along those lines.

Lincee: “Yeah. We are old.”
Jill: “Then I would have to go with Newsies.”

Thank you. A total unbiased opinion from an outside source. It has nothing to do with that being a perfect example as to why Jill and I are friends. I’m just saying.

I saw Newsies in high school. I fell in love with Christian Bale and am a complete sucker for boys dancing. I wore out both the cassette and VHS tapes. I can sing every song and have mastered a pretty decent New York accent as a result. It’s that good. Think about it…a cassette, a CD, a VHS tape and a DVD. Would I steer you wrong?

So where does Mamma Mia fit in? Definitely not a top five. I contemplated purchasing the CD, but I already have the Broadway version and ABBA GOLD, so there’s really not a need. And I don’t think I can stomach hearing Pierce Brosnon singing “SOS” again. I’ll probably squish it up in the Top 10 behind Rent, Phantom of the Opera and Sweeney Todd for good measure.

What do you think? Did I totally miss the boat? Did you enjoy the movie? Should I give it another go? Did you rewind your VHS tape a million times when Christian Bale does a pelvic thrust while singing “Carrying the Banner” in the opening number of Newsies? Was that just me? Are there musicals that I left out? Are you going to judge me because I don’t care for Rent other than the song about five trillion twenty-one hundred six billion minutes?

Feel free to discuss below.

Notify of
newest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
July 21, 2008 12:29 pm

Not a comic book fan at all and such a chick flick goer and musical lover BUT you totally should have gone to Batman! It was awesome and Heath Ledger is amazingly insane. So funny and yucky at the same time. Crazy. But worth your low price of $7 did you say? wow. I am jealous of your ticket price. Lucky you. In so many ways. You are blessed.

July 21, 2008 12:46 pm

I feel you on the channeling of the inner black woman while singing to the Dreamgirls soundtrack. Something about the amazing acoustics in my car… so fun!

July 21, 2008 12:58 pm

I might be in the minority here…I LOVED Mamma Mia! And now I am dying to see the Broadway version. I love Moulin Rouge, Chicago, Dreamgirls and Hairspray too…..I have to rent Newsies….never saw it. ~avoiding things thrown~

I went out at midnight Friday night (after getting out of the movies) and went and bought an ABBA album and the movie soundtrack. I loved, loved, loved the movie! In fact, I’m taking my mom to see it (she was a 60’s wild child) next week!

God bless you Lincee for always allowing us a little insight into your colorful life!

July 21, 2008 1:05 pm

I, too, fell in love with Newsies in high school and because my purchases of tapes were few and far between, I did the good ole fashion recording. I stuck my jambox really close to the tv and recorded the songs straight from the movie! The best soundtrack I ever had…and did I become one heck of a dancer after memorizing those moves.

July 21, 2008 1:15 pm

I also gave the movie this weekend an affectionate “meh.” I think it was ok… BUT…. compared to the actual live production that was in Houston last year, it’s hard to compare. Definitely a much better show when you can stand up in the aisle and dance to the live music. So all in all a good show, but better live!!! Lincee… what movie theater are you going to that costs only $7??? I still use my student ID and even that is $8!!

July 21, 2008 1:34 pm

I was not planning to see Mamma Mia after hearing so/so things about it even though I am a pretty big ABBA fan (Gold & More Gold on CD, plus three or four actual records, you know the things people played before tapes…), but I didn’t realize Pierce Brosnan was in it…I love Pierce Brosnan, but I cannot for the life of me picture him singing anything, let alone ABBA. My morbid curiosity may get the better of me….

July 21, 2008 1:35 pm

I loved Mamma Mia – for what it was. Nothing they could have produced would stand up to the musical – or the soundtrack with the original cast. Meryl Streep was a little too old to play Donna (in my opinion), and Pierce Brosnan was painful to watch singing S.O.S.


It was FUN. And it was cute. And I hope against hope that when I’m Meryl Streep’s age I have the grace and energy to sing and dance like that!

I bought the soundtrack on iTunes last week, so I had a few days to get used to the cast’s singing voices. I wasn’t a fan of Pierce Brosnan’s, but watching him sing was THAT much worse! Poor guy, he was trying so hard, I just couldn’t get past the fact that the suave 007 and Thomas Crowne was singing his guts out.

I’ll see it again in theaters (I went with my mom, and I have a bunch of girlfriends who still want to see it), and I’ll probably buy it on DVD. But then again, I also own all sorts of movies other people would consider crap. 🙂

July 21, 2008 1:35 pm

I thought Mamma Mia was good fun. I liked and had a blast singing along to Dancing Queen (along with everyone else in the theather). Not DVD purchase worthy, but fun in the moment. If in 5 years, I was flipping channels and I passed it on TNT, I probably would stop and watch until the first commercial. I’m not an ABBA fan, but I may buy the soundtrack, becasue i thought some of the lyrics were awesome (some…not all!). And, I probably would not buy the movie merely for the fact that hearing Pierce Brosnan sing was like fingernails on a chalkboard. Lucky for him, he’s pretty.
Oh, and Lincee, i also channel my Inner Black Woman while listening to the Dreamgirls soundtrack when driving. Now, I AM a black woman, but I can’t hold a tune, so i have channel one to pinch hit! LOL! 🙂

July 21, 2008 2:05 pm

Ah, Newsies. Brings back many fond memories of staring at Christian Bale and wondering if I wrote him a letter if he’d come to my 5th grade birthday party.

He didn’t.

But I still heart him. And Newsies.

July 21, 2008 2:06 pm

I own GREASE, GREASE 2, HAIRSPRAY, NEWSIES, RENT, and almost every major studio musical of the 50s and 60s (not STATE FAIR, for example – boring!) I am sure I will buy MAMMA MIA! IT was good, but not great. I wish they had made a musical of MURIEL’S WEDDING – all the ABBA music and love, great story, so much fun…

NEWSIES is the best. Not my fave of the last 20 years…mine is probably HAIRSPRAY. But I will always be “carrying the banner” for NEWSIES!

July 21, 2008 2:16 pm

1.) Wow. All of my favorite movie musicals are more than 20 years old: Sound of Music, Mary Poppins, Annie.

2.) I much preferred the stage version of Rent to the movie. And 525,600 Minutes is def the best song in the show.

3.) I saw the Mamma Mia movie on opening night, too! I liked it. It made me laugh and cry. It really moved me. Meryl Streep rocks, and Colin Firth’s solo song on the boat with his guitar was awesome. I also thought the actress to play Sophie was adorable and had a gorgeous voice! I want to buy the CD, but don’t think I’ll buy the DVD. We don’t really buy any DVDs, though. We’re renters.

4.) As far as movie musicals of the past 20 years go, I think you’ve done a fine job at picking the top 5. I adored Moulin Rouge. I agree that the entire sound track of Chicago rocks, but I have a special place in my heart for “Cell Block Tango”.

5.) Hairspray was, indeed, perfectly cast, and as you pointed out to me when we saw it in the theater, Link sings my my very own love song!

July 21, 2008 2:20 pm

yes, but did you see Dr. Horrible’s Sing-a-long Blog this weekend?

ps. i love newsies!!!

July 21, 2008 2:25 pm

Newsies and Moulin Rouge? You, Lincee, are my hero and possibly the love of my life :o) But… one question… Rent? Have you *heard* that soundtrack? Light my candle? Tango: Maureen? Out Tonight?!?Maybe just expand your list to the Top 6…?

July 21, 2008 2:27 pm

Lincee, I concur with your summation. As usual, you and I are on the same wave length!

#7 addy – I too was thrown a bit by Meryl’s age and Pierce’s chest hair and lack of 007ness. It detracted from my ability to fully suspend my disbelief and enjoy the movie for what it was.

#11 starshine – I thought the actress that played Sophie was the best part of the movie. She was believable, loveable and she could sing!

I wouldn’t buy the DVD or the soundtrack. I’d just stick with the original ABBA CD. I wouldn’t pay to see it again but would watch it if it was on a cable channel in the future.

July 21, 2008 3:08 pm

I loved Mamma Mia when I saw the musical so I was stoked about the movie. Although the movie didnt have the same effect that the musical did, I was really entertained. I think anyone who hasn’t seen the musical will LOVE the movie and those who have will enjoy the movie…maybe not love though.

I did the $7.50 matinee (what is that??) and I thought Sophie was fantastic!! She was a doll and I pretty much want to be her. Meryl Streep did a great job! And poor James Bond…it was a little akward to hear him sing but I still liked it.

The best part of the whole experience was the audience…all women, singing and clapping along…and they literally stood up and danced at the end…it was hilarious!

Would love your thoughts! Click here to share.x