All I want for Christmas is no more “Les Miz”

Jack Aubrey as Javert.Via broadwayworld.com

Jack Aubrey as Javert.
Via broadwayworld.com

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.

Are we having fun yet?
Courtesy Vogue magazine.

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.

That haircut. I feel you, Anne.via deadline.com

That haircut. I feel you, Anne.
via deadline.com

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.

About WSW

Writer, wife, mother. Toiler in the bottomless, black, soul-sucking coal mine of domestic life. Thank God for the portable bar.

Posted on December 19, 2012, in Commentary, Holiday fare and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 28 Comments.

  1. I could see some of these folks singing convincingly in a movie about a bar-band, but Les Miserables?–uhhh, no.

    • I think you’re being overly kind in your estimation of their abilities — you can’t emote your way through Louie, Louie after all — but that’s what Christmas is all about and you’re a kinder person than I am.

  2. I have higher standards than those that would compel me to see this film. Russell Crowe still rocks in Gladiator…well at least the German version with the voice over.

    • I have no standards whatsoever, and I won’t be seeing it. You know, I just love Russell, too. Have done ever since LA Confidential, but unless he’s heaving phones at people or sporting gladiator sandals, this movie is decidedly out of the question.

  3. I have a confession: I love musicals (in theatres) and though this is an overblown cinematic whatchamacallit, I will see it. It’s like a milk chocolate addiction; I know it’s not even remotely good for me, but sometimes the body/brain hormone imbalance wants what it wants.
    On a more intellectual level – I’ve also got about a zillion books to read during the holidays. Also your review/non-review is the best I’ve ever read and someone should pick it up.

    • Keep up the milk chocolate intake, you sweet talker, you. To each his own. Many wonderful people love musicals, and besides we all have our dirty little secrets. I, for example, cannot get enough of the dreadful “Practical Magic.” It’s just sad, really.

  4. Snoring Dog Studio

    Have we run out of good books to make movies about? Is there only a repository of two – Les Miz and anything by Jane Austen? Sheesh. Add some zombies to Les Miz and maybe I’ll watch it. But no way do I consider Jack Reacher a substitute. I saw the commercial and I couldn’t tell his acting apart from his Mission Impossible role.

  5. I’m with the movement that believes people shouldn’t “sing” a movie (ie. Musicals). You sing a song, you recite a poem…maybe you recite the poem while wearing green leotards and a pointy hat with a bell on it…but this outfit gives one even less license to sing the poem. The title sums it up – Les Miz – for Mizery….

    • I’m with you, Susan. I hate musicals almost as much as I hate all those singing competitions, but nothing can match my loathing for Glee. I watched about ten minutes of an episode once and very nearly shot out the TV set. What a waste of Jane Lynch!

  6. “…touched the grime and smelled the squalor and cried a few tears…” That could be any week day for me. Apparently they’ve made my life into a musical. How exciting. I hope Hugh Jackman is playing me.
    And every time they play the Jack Reacher commercial I yell at the tv. “He’s not Jack Reacher!” My husband is developing a twitch.

    • Really. Who knew our daily lives were so damned literary? As for Reacher, I’m so desperate for a shoot-’em-up I’ll probably go and see it anyway. You know, if they can use CGI to make regular sized actors look tiny in the Hobbit, maybe they can morph Tom Thumb into the antisocial giant of my dreams.

  7. I think I’ll stick to Jack Reacher

    • I am not happy about little Tommy playing big old Jack, but am willing to give it a shot. At least there’ll be lots of explosions. I love it when lots of stuff get blown up in a movie.

      • yea I was really upset that he was playing Jack but I saw the previews and I think maybe he might pull it off. he just is not burly and BIG enough to be Jack. We will see. I love the books so I am not sure I want to ruin the character in my head with the movie but I am very tempted.

  8. This production sounds like a horror to me too. I never watched the original musical, for one good reason. I don’t feel like being depressed. Anything with the title “The Miserables” is a warning – now I might go see a musical if it was called “We Are Happy As Fuck”.

  9. I wouldn’t go see Les Miz if the cut in Asian Ass Porn just before a song was due to break out. Okay, no Asian Ass Porn it would just cheapen all the work those poor Asian women had to do.

  10. I am right there with you!

  11. I love this. I was looking forward to seeing this movie, haven’t heard much about it, don’t know how I’ve avoided it. Was hoping it wasn’t a musical. Bummer. I’ll go see The Hobbit instead.
    Thanks!

  12. Great commentary, I was offered free tickets to a media screening of this. Of course I declined, my actual words were “No fucking chance”

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