Tick, tick…BOOM! (4*)
West Side Story (3.5*)
There were four musicals in this year’s Oscar nominee list and I enjoyed all of them. My top to picks were Tick, tick…Boom! And Cyrano.
Tick, tick, …BOOM! Is an adaptation of the second major play written by Jonathon Larson. Larson’s first play was hardly even produced. And this play was written because he was told ‘write about something you know’ so he wrote about the writing of this play. Obviously all of this meta-mirroring can get a little bit confusing, but the film goes a long ways to help you out. (However, a second viewing is a definite plus). But I found it especially fun as a musical because of the unusual phrasing that Larson employs. Andrew Garfield may not be the best vocalist, but it works and if you are willing to pay attention to the script inversions, you will enjoy this film.
Peter Dinklage also can’t sing all that well either. But the reason to see Cyrano is all because of his acting. Haley Bennett, playing his Roxanne, can, in fact, sing and helps carry the musical aspect of the film. Still, despite some good lyrics, the songs in this film were underwhelming. See it for Dinklage’s acting, not because it is a musical.
West Side Story is Speilberg’s take on a story that has a very long history. This version really does work as a musical with great production values, an authentic cast, and some very good vocals. Where it does not work is in the drama itself. In particular, I found the casting of Ansel Elgort as Tony to be especially problematic. Not only can he not really sing, but he seems to be totally lost as to why he is even in this film. Enjoy this movie, because it is fun, but it isn’t a must see.
Encanto is Disney’s entry in this year’s musical lineup. I enjoyed this movie, more than most of the animated flicks this year. The story was intriguing with elements for all family ages, and the music was memorable. After all, “We don’t talk about Bruno” is still in your ear, right?
There was only one musical film from the 2021 Oscar year and I didn’t like it. Over the Moon had one song, “Ultraluminary” that I really liked, and the music was probably the best thing about the movie. But I can’t suggest you rent this unless you’ve exhausted everything else.