19 July 2013

"Hogtied and dragged at gun point by my wife, her sister and her mom," or, Why Most Guys See a Musical

My darling eldest daughter received a copy of Les Miserables for her birthday.  She wanted to watch it last night, after a birthday mother/daughter shopping/conversation evening out.

O.K.  I can always use more sleep anyway.

But the thing is, she really wanted me to watch it, too, and even tried to foist this whole "It's really Catholic" angle on me.  I knew better, but she is my first born.

So, though I HATE musicals with the intensity of a thousand white-hot suns, I remained in the room with them.

I won't bother you with my own take on the event, as my brother may or may not have, depending on his mood, found the perfect movie review online by Matt Walsh.  Utter perfection.  God bless you, Mr. Walsh.


Les Miserables Taught Me How to Hate Again
by Matt Walsh

Last night I went to a showing of Les Miserables. And when I say “went to” I mean “hogtied and dragged at gun point by my wife, her sister and her mom”. By the looks of many of the other men in that crowded overheated theater, I was not the only hostage victim in attendance. In fact I saw one dude commit Hara-kiri while shouting “death before dishonor” in the parking lot prior to the screening. At first I thought he was slightly overreacting. And then the movie started.

I have to say, after watching the entire film, it was actually a thousand times worse than I could have imagined. Les Miserables will stand forever as the most miserable cinematic experience I’ve ever suffered through. And this is coming from a guy who saw Christmas with the Kranks in theaters, so that should tell you something.

Let me run through a few points about this excruciating horror show for anyone, especially any man, who has not yet been forced to endure it.

Les Miserables apparently holds the Guinness world record for longest musical about a minor parole violation. It tells the utterly pointless tale of an ex-con as he tries to elude a bumbling parole officer for 20 years. This is also, it should be mentioned, the first film to show two decades pass by in real time. So if you’re heading to the theater tonight make sure to pack a change of clothes. My wife told me afterward that the movie, despite its torturous running time, actually CUT OUT several scenes from the original play. Too bad they didn’t cut out more scenes. Like every scene. Of course it didn’t have to be that long. Hugh Jackman, the criminal guy, could have just, you know, MOVED OUT OF THE FREAKING CITY IF HE DIDN’T WANT TO BE CAUGHT. Instead this whole game of cat-and-mouse between Jackman and Russell Crowe takes place in one neighborhood. The dumbest criminal of the millennium vs. a law enforcement officer that makes every Leslie Nielsen character look like Sherlock Holmes in comparison.

Oh. But it gets worse. Much worse. They sing. Dear God do they sing. They sing EVERYTHING. Look, I know it’s a musical. I get it. I’ve seen Fiddler on the Roof and The Sound of Music and West Side Story. They sing in those films/plays also. But then they break up the musical numbers with normal dialogue. But that’s just too simple and not nearly irritating enough, according to the maniac who wrote this tornado of crap. Every single line in the movie is sung. It doesn’t matter how pedestrian the dialogue, they have to put it to music: “Pass the salt”, “Hang on I gotta take a leak”, etc. All put to song. My sister-in-law cried throughout the whole movie. I cried tears of blissful joy when Russell Crowe threw himself off a bridge at the end because it meant he’d finally stop singing. BUT EVEN THAT DIDN’T STOP HIM. All the dead people had to come back before the credits for one last encore. By the way, Crowe, you’re the guy who played the gladiator but now you will live in infamy as the most awkward casting decision in Hollywood history. You reminded me of someone’s dad who was tossed into the school play at the last minute after his son came down with laryngitis on opening night.
But let’s talk about the “big” musical numbers. You don’t need to buy the soundtrack. I’ll sum up every song in the movie. Here you go: “I’m so lonely, I’m so alone, look at me my life is hard, I’m alone, I’m on my own, there’s this empty chair here, it’s empty because I’m alone, I’m lonely, all this bad stuff has happened to me because of my inexcusably stupid life choices, I’m alone, I feel so alone, on my own, on my own, on my own, did I mention I’m on my oooooowwwwwn?”

Not a dry eye in the house after we heard that one. For the 40th time.

Vapid, shallow, predictable, self indulgent and emotionally manipulative. “BUT IT’S A CLASSIC!” No. No it’s not. Who cares if the play has been around for a while? Malaria has been around for a while. Just because something is old doesn’t make it a “classic”.

And I haven’t even mentioned the fact that half the characters in this flick– which is set in France — have an inexplicable limey British chimney sweep accent. That would make sense for Mary Poppins but not this. Incidentally THAT’S a musical I’d sooner watch 5 times in a row before being subjected to another 3 minutes of Les Miserables.

Then, two thirds of the way through the movie, we get the obligatory tragic love story. Here’s how it goes: a young French revolutionary spots a blonde chick across the street. The two lock eyes and literally THAT NIGHT the dumb desperate loser is singing about how he’d “die for her”. Really? And I’m supposed to become psychologically invested in a plot device that has just reduced the beauty, joy, pain and sacrifice of romantic love to something you can catch like a cold or fall into like a puddle? I know Hollywood has been peddling that nonsense for ages but this was simply too much to cope with.

To make matters worse we’re all supposed to be super impressed because the songs (and by “songs” I mean “every single word uttered during the course of the entire picture”) are performed live instead of being recorded in a studio and dubbed into the film. “GEE WOW I’M SO ENAMORED WITH YOUR ARTISTIC INTEGRITY”. Is that the reaction I’m supposed to have? I don’t know because my initial reaction was something like “Man, this sounds awful”. Instead of lip syncing pre-recorded songs, the actors sputtered out of key while choking back tears and gasping for breath. It was like listening to someone sing karaoke while being chased by a swarm of African killer bees. Coincidentally, that is the actual premise of a reality show on TruTV. Except that show likely has more depth and intelligence. I don’t care if the “let’s do it live” move was “revolutionary”. Not all revolutions are good. Just ask France.

I could go on. But I won’t. I hated Les Miserables with a violent passion. Let’s leave it at that.
And at this: my wife now has to watch four mob movies, three war movies and two History Channel documentaries with me.

That’s the exchange rate.

Sorry, honey, I don’t make the rules. But I will enforce them.


Anonymous said...

Oh come now. It has Wolverine, Dr. Doom, and Batgirl. Is the blond in a Mickey Mouse Club cap? How could you not love that?

I am not big on Les Miz. I've read much melodramatic tragic French literature in my day.

Emilyintherealworld said...

So we're going to the Muny tonight, right?

Anonymous said...

I forgot that I was reading someone else's words there for awhile. The book was better anyway. :)


Anonymous said...

This was just a bowl of delight, good sir. Thank you.

Delena @ It's On My To Do List said...

Thank goodness I'm not the only one who feels the way I do about Les Mis.

Awful. Just awful.

Walsh's description is spot on. :-)

Does this mean our dinner invite is retracted??

X said...

There are some great musicals. Not only is the music in Meredith Willsons masterpiece the Music Man beautiful but the lyrics and dialogue is perhaps the most brilliant insight into human nature since Mark Twain. And anything you might ever need to know about the corporate world you could learn from watching How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. Seven Brides for Seven Brothers? Somethings never change. And of course Meet Me In St. Louis.

Like many things the world of musicals has changed much since 1963. Since that time musicals have been mostly pointless, repetitive, flamboyant drivel. That's probably why Andrew Lloyd Weber is seen as some kind of a god now.

Mrs. Bax said...

This was great! I thought I was the only lady that didn't like Les Miserables. My husband and I tried to watch it and after 20 minutes, I couldn't take it anymore. Matt Walsh's review had me laughing so hard b/c it was exactly how I felt watching 20 minutes of the movie. Thanks for the laugh!