All I want for Christmas is no more “Les Miz”
Well hallelujah, it’s finally here: the epic, groundbreaking, life-changing movie version of Les Misérables. Yup, on Christmas Day we can all run off to the local movie palace to lose ourselves in three hours of emotional torment, armed conflict and theatrical scenery chewing, the like of which, we are told, has never before been captured on film.
Of course, those of us who are celebrating with our in-laws can experience all of the above (as well as the annual battle for the drumstick) live and in person from the comfort of our favorite barcalounger. This scenario offers the added bonus of support from the affable Mssrs. Jameson and Daniels as well as the distraction of roughly fifty bowl games to keep everybody occupied. The choice seems like a no brainer to me, unless of course between now and Christmas somebody opens up a movie theater with a full bar, but even then I’d have to sit through this dud of a movie, and make no mistake, despite all the overblown adjectives attached to it, that is most certainly what it will be.
In any case, Hollywood’s all atwitter at the imminent release of Les Misérables, the movie adaptation of the Broadway musical which is based on the English translation of the original French novel centering on the improbably named Jean Valjean. Back in college we referred to this kind of product as having been “stepped on” a bit too much, that is, bulked up with suspicious fillers that extended the quantity but diluted the impact of the original ingredient. I’m referring of course to meatloaf for those of you who spent your time in academia studying rather than “cooking” at every possible opportunity. But I digress.
I have sat through the endless promotional video for this exercise in adaptive re-use approximately one hundred times — in the run up to virtually every movie I’ve taken in over the past six years. As a result, I have already seen far more of said musical extravaganza than I ever wanted to. With a running time of four and a half minutes, the Les Misérables First Look video is utterly excruciating. The absolute nadir, the point at which I actually squirm in my seat and feel the need to avert my eyes (every. single. time.) is when Mr Sexy Wolverine earnestly explains the delivery of his soliloquy (“What have I done. What have I done? Sweet Jesus, what have I done?” etc.) in a scenery-chewing moment that showcases all of his acting chops all at once as he emotes and pants his way through three lines of lyrics/dialogue. Watch it at your own risk, but don’t say you weren’t warned.
The rest of the cast is similarly insufferable in their apparent conviction that filming a musical with real singing is second only to splitting the atom in the pantheon of human accomplishment. Director Tom Hooper, who inexplicably chose to follow up The King’s Speech with this mess, observes that there’s ”something false about people singing to playback.” Listen Tom, you seem like a nice guy, but you’re an idiot. There’s something false about people randomly bursting into song in the middle of a conversation, backed up by a 70 piece orchestra. I’m sorry to be the one to break this to you, but there is no way any musical is ever going to be anything but affected and unbelievable, which is why I never watch them.
Then of course there’s the barbering of Anne Hathaway to be endured – I’m referring of course to her movie haircut rather than the unfortunate wardrobe malfunction. I suppose I’d probably sob my way through the filming too if I’d foolishly agreed to have my head shorn for a turkey like this. Really, not since GI Jane have so many locks been sacrificed for so little gain.
Today I read a review of the movie that, inadvertently, sums up my dislike for it.
It simply will not let up until you’ve Felt Something — powerfully and repeatedly — until you’ve touched the grime and smelled the squalor and cried a few tears of your own.
Haven’t we all Felt enough? Isn’t there ample squalor in my living room by four pm on Christmas Day? Why add more sobbing to the holidays?
And don’t you even think of singing your response.
Posted on December 19, 2012, in Commentary, Holiday fare and tagged Anne Hathaway, Christmas, Hugh Jackman, Humor, Les Miserables movie, scenery chewing, Tom Hooper, Wolverine. Bookmark the permalink. 28 Comments.