Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Music Man (2003)

"The sadder but wiser girl for me"

Meredith Willson's The Music Man was a Broadway musical that brought down the house. The year was 1959 and only a few years later a big budget Hollywood film version would be done. In 1962, Robert Preston wowed audiences with his portrayal of Harold Hill in this very film. Preston reprised his role from the Tony Award winning performance he gave in the Broadway show. Just over 40 years later Disney decided it was time to remake The Music Man for The Wonderful World of Disney...

The film is a direct adaptation of the original Broadway play and comparing it to the original plays out very much like the film version. Matthew Broderick plays Professor Harold Hill and his performance is a yawn fest. And in all fairness I did not sit there comparing this film to the original, Broderick cannot play Harold Hill to save his life. He plays the character very much like he's reading off cue cards. If you look at his performance of the songs "Ya Got Trouble" and "76 Trombones" it is very obvious he just doesn't give a shit. That character should be charismatic but he plays it like he forgot to read the script and everyone is just helping him. The songs are incredibly slow because of his cardboard performance.

And Broderick isn't the only offender here either. All of the actors preform as if they are made of cardboard. Even veteran actors like Victor Garber (playing Mayor Shinn) are awful. I'm not sure if the actors were trying to portray the actors from the original film or they really just didn't care, but all the performances in this film are awful.

The casting was poorly done as well. Matthew Broderick was chosen because at the time he was a big star on Broadway with "The Producers" so it was a natural selection to pick him. But, take a look at the film version of "The Producers" and he's just as bad in that film too! Molly Shannon (playing Mrs. Shinn) was probably one of the worst choices they could have made. Shannon overacts in every single thing she is in. A really good example of how bad she is and how bad the producers were on this film is the scene in which the firecracker goes off under her feet. In the original film it goes off, she yells out "I'm shot!" and falls down. A very funny scene and direct to the point. In this film, the firecracker blows her dress up over her head and she falls backward into a curtain pulling it down yelling out "I'm shot! I'm shot! George! George!", seriously over done for no reason, and it takes all the fun out of the little prank.

Victor Garber I thought was a good choice to play Mayor Shinn but as earlier stated his performance is very subpar. He was really great as Oliver Warbucks in Disney's 1999 film "Annie", but sadly he suffers in this role. Kristen Chenoweth as Marion Paroo was poorly cast as well. I've seen Kristen in other roles and she always plays odd characters. The role of Marion Paroo is a very straight forward character that I just can't seen Kristen doing well, and she doesn't. She can sing, there's no doubt about that, but she can't act.

Overall the film is awful, the opening song was so badly done it was ridiculous! The song is supposed to be fast paced, but it's slowed down for whatever reason and it's awful. Also, the fun of the opening scene is that Harold Hill is sitting in the train car the whole time and NO ONE knows about it, especially the audience! Yet in this version the director chooses to do close ups of Broderick over and over again taking the reveal of his character completely away! Also, the reaction of the character when he finds it is Hill is so elementary school stupid. He does a double take then keeps repeating "That's Harold Hill! That's the guy we were just talking about!", as if those guys or even the audience didn't already know that! His name is on the fucking briefcase! I think the director/producers think that America is really that stupid that we couldn't figure stuff like that out.

Anyway, enough of my ranting, if you want to see the film go watch the original 1962 film starring Robert Preston and avoid this one like the plague!