I’ve never really been a huge fan of musicals. Not that I hate them. Although I did briefly doze off when I saw Wicked on Broadway a couple of years ago. And I think Chicago winning the Best Picture Oscar is among the biggest mistakes the Academy has ever made. The following, then, are the exceptions to the rule. Here are five movie musicals I actually really like, even as someone who does not particularly enjoy musicals.
It’s just the kind of traditional classic Hollywood musical that you’d expect I’d detest, what with it’s sometimes unnatural and illogical lapses into song, mixed with in-story performances . But actually, I’ve come to love it. It’s become a Christmas tradition in our house, even though, strictly speaking, only roughly a quarter of the film is actually set during the winter. Regardless, it is a genuinely warm, funny and engrossing movie. The scene with the parents’ duet, “You And I,” gets me in every time.
I’ll admit it – I’ve been a sucker for Oliver! ever since I saw a primary school production of the show as a young boy. Come to think of it, it was probably my introduction to Dickens too. Something about the story and the songs stuck with me. The movie version directed by Carol Reed still holds up today as the pinnacle of what epic movie musicals should do (sorry, Les Mis). FYI, Fagin’s two brain-infesting ditties “You’ve Got to Pick-a-Pocket or Two” and “Reviewing the Situation” are my go-to songs when I sing in the shower – in full accent no less.
C’mon, who doesn’t love Blues Brothers? Not only does it have a ton of great music spanning pretty much the entire spectrum of American-originated genres – it’s got stupidly epic car chases, violent nuns, cameos galore – and it’s damn funny to boot. What’s not to love? Buy the soundtrack, stick it on full volume while you’re driving and you are guaranteed to have a great day.
What? The South Park movie? Really, David? Hell yes! As if the fact that it’s one of the most intelligent satires of our time isn’t enough, it also has actually great songs too! “Kyle’s Mom’s a Bitch” might be the one that everyone remembers, but “What Would Brian Boitano Do?” is just as inspired as Satan’s solo “Up There” is moving. And let’s not forget that “Blame Canada” is an Oscar winning song. Yes, really.
Talking of unlikely Oscar winners, Once doesn’t really fit the mould either, given that it’s an understated, indie film where (spoiler!) the guy doesn’t end up getting the girl. For the most part, the musical performances are effectively integrated into the reality of the world of the film but that doesn’t mean they skimp on emotion at all. The raw gut punch delivered by Hansard’s vocals on a number of songs is absolutely astounding.