Laughter Road

Monday, November 28, 2005

525, 600 minutes

The summer of 1998, I spent 6 weeks in Europe taking classes with my college-abroad program. During our time in London, I convinced the people in my circle of friends to go see RENT, which was playing at the Shrewsbury Theatre, just down the road from our dorm. The rest of the trip was filled with counterpoint renditions of "Would you Light my Candle?" and "La Vie Boheme." I bought the soundtrack, learned most of the songs, and didn't see the musical again until last year, in NYC.

When I learned Chris Columbus (Stepmom, Harry Potter, etc.) was making a movie with most of the original cast members, I was wary. Directors tend to butcher the stories I love best, be they books or plays. I saw the movie tonight, and though it wasn't brilliant, it was everything I expected. I expected Chris Columbus to be able to capture some of the magic of the music, the city, and the characters, and I wasn't disappointed. The story got switched around a bit, but that was ok, because they realized that the musical in its original state wasn't perfect, and did their best to improve where they could. Got rid of the silly song with everyone under the sheet in the beginning of the second act, but kept the ridiculous "1000 Kisses" song between Collins and Angel in the first act. Probably the worst part of the movie, and a downright stupid scene, with them frolicking down the streets of the city. Gag.

Columbus felt the need to date the movie for us, which doesn't happen in the play (we get the month and day, but not the year). I thought this was unnecessary, and put restrictions on what was happening. 1989 was the point where a lot of people began living with AIDS, before there were any really effective drugs. Most of these people contracted the disease through unprotected sex and needle sharing, and were in their early 20s, but the movie cast supporting characters in their 30s, so the original cast members wouldn't look so old next to them. It was nice to hear most of the same voices that are on my original cast album, though (The actress that played Mimi was pregnant during filming, and the original Joanne felt she looked too old to come back to the role, so they both bowed out).

I'm also going to see Harry Potter this week, and I saw Walk the Line over the holiday. Joachim Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon both deserve an Oscar.


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