I know this is shocking, but Dave and I got to go to the movies this week. Twice, and they weren’t animated. There was singing, but not singing animals. Or even talking animals.
There were talking Hobbits.
I love my husband very much, so I sat through three hours of dwarfs, hobbits and elves. Again. Because the first nine hours of Lord of the Rings wasn’t nearly enough.
Hobbits and their hairy, deformed feet freak me out, and I will never think of Dr. Watson quite the same again.
For all the epic-ness of it, there really isn’t much plot. It’s the same thing every time. A bunch of shaggy, misfit creatures go on a journey to somewhere, but keep getting delayed by other shaggy, misfit creatures who want to kill them. This scenario plays out about twice every hour for three very long hours.
And what a lengthy journey it is. The book is only about 300 pages, yet director Peter Jackson stretched it into three, three-hour movies.
I could probably read the book in less time than that. Not that I plan on doing so.
I bet Peter Jackson bores people at parties with long-winded stories that contain too much exposition and too many unnecessary details.
I mentioned singing, and there was singing in The Hobbit. Singing dwarfs. The vocal stylings of the dwarfs weren’t bad. Especially compared to the other vocals we heard at the movie theater this week.
Christmas Day Dave and I saw Les Miserables.
Les Miz is a BIG Broadway musical with a BIG score and BIG Lyrics and a BIG set and a BIG cast.
I saw the show live in Chicago in the early 90′s when Les Miz hysteria was at an all time high. The actors belted out the songs, and the orchestra music soared through the theater. Even in such a large auditorium there’s an intimacy that comes from being in the same room with the actors. By the end we all wanted to stand on our feet, sing along to Do You Hear the People Sing and join the French Revolution.
By the end of this most recent movie version of Les Miz all I wanted to do was unhear Russell Crowe’s miserable solos.
In the opening scene it’s painfully obvious that Crowe and even Hugh Jackman, who has Broadway experience, weren’t up to the challenge of Les Miz’s book. I found myself wondering why they didn’t cast Nicole Kidman as Fantine, and round out the trifecta of Australian actors who can’t sing?
OK. This is turning into a serious movie review. I feel very seriously about Les Miz because I love it. Almost as much as I love my husband who I’ve now sat through 12 hours of Middle-earth angst with.
Ann Hathaway fared a little better, but the entire movie suffers from a size problem. A BIG show written for a BIG stage so that folks even in the nosebleed section can enjoy it doesn’t translate well to the small screen. There were close-ups when there should have been sweeping long shots. There were songs whispered softly or half-spoken when they should have been sung with force and passion. Of course the whispering and the speaking were to cover up the fact that Crowe, Jackman and Hathaway couldn’t reach some of those notes even if they were standing on a 12 foot ladder.
When we got to Bring Him Home, I just wanted to go home. When Crowe finally threw himself off that bridge, I was relieved. Not because Valjean was free, but because Crowe was done singing.
There were bright spots like Samantha Barks as a grown Eponine, Sacha Baron Cohen as Thénardier and Isabelle Allen as a young Cosette.
If you love Les Miz, see the movie just because you love Les Miz. You’ll still find parts to enjoy. If you’ve never seen Les Miz, definitely see the movie, because even bad singing can’t ruin the epic story and music.
But when Crowe starts in on Stars, it’s a good time to go for a popcorn re-fill.