Best of Warner Bros. 20 Film Collection Musicals
Directed by: Bob Fosse, Victor Fleming
Cast: Judy Garland, Gene Kelly, Liza Minelli, Debbie Reynolds
Due Out: February 13, 2012
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Synopsis (courtesy of Warner Bros.):
Warner Bros. continues to entertain the world with films passionately produced, selectively acquired, carefully preserved and impeccably curated for both the casual and ultimate movie lover to enjoy forever. Best of Warner Bros. 20 Film Collection: Musicals will be released February 12 and will include films such as Singin In The Rain, Wizard of Oz and many more.
WHO’S IT FOR? You like to sing and dance, well then this is a no-brainer. The list price for these 21 musicals is just under $100. Currently, Amazon.com has this set listed at $71, and Warner Bros has it for just $68.86. That’s an amazing deal. There are hits and misses within the group. The picture quality of Showboat is terrible, which defeats the entire point of the film existing. Yet the film Seven Bribes for Seven Brothers looks fantastic. It’s as if Warner Bros. just grabbed the closest DVD they could find. With some, you’ll get the deluxe version of the DVD release, with others, you won’t. The extras for A Star is Born are non-existent, while Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory has a documentary, commentary, sing-along songs and more.
The Jazz Singer
Broadway Melody of 1929
The Great Ziegfeld
Wizard of Oz
Yankee Doodle Dandy
An American In Paris
Singin In The Rain
Seven Brides for Seven Brothers
A Star Is Born
The Music Man
Viva Las Vegas
Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
Little Shop of Horrors
Scorecard Review of “Hairspray”
Nikki Blonsky as Tracy Turnblad: At the core of this story, it’s just a girl yearning for more with some singing and dancing thrown in. Blonsky is an actress who isn’t afraid to shake her arm fat. The character flaws for Tracy are actually the reason she succeeds, Tracy is naïve and ignorant. Luckily she does it with enough humor and warmth.
John Travolta as Edna Turnblad: Uncomfortable. That’s how I felt watching someone who used to be one of my favorites (“Saturday Night Fever,” “Pulp Fiction”). I bet most of America will enjoy this performance, but it didn’t work for me. And it really had nothing to do with the fat suit or playing a woman. The voice, especially the singing voice, was such a distraction that I never saw Edna as a person.
Christopher Walken as Wilbur Turnblad: He is a diamond in the rough, or perhaps he’s the rough in a land of diamonds. Walken just has “it.” Plus, he gets to sing and dance a little (see 1981’s “Pennies from Heaven” for more of that).
Rest of the Cast: Michele Pfieffer as Velma Von Tussle steals every scene she’s in except when she’s trying to seduce Wilbur. Queen Latifah has the difficult task of singing the only heavy song in the film, but she does a fine job with it. Amanda Bynes has some great lines, but isn’t quite the comedic actress to pull them off.
Talking: The film worked at its best when it delved into the subversive humor of the racial idiocy of the ’60s. Lines such as, “Negro Day’s the best. I wish every day was Negro Day,” coming out of Tracy were perfect. Unfortunately, there was so much of that, I found it difficult to take the serious parts … well, serious.
Sights and sounds: This is absolutely what a Broadway musical turned film should look like. The set design was amazing. Travolta’s fat suit served its purpose well, and little moments such as the smoke filling up the teacher’s lounge were perfect adaptations. Plus, in the early going, John Waters (the director of the original film) has a great cameo.
I like my musicals without the morality. I want “Moulin Rouge” not “Dreamgirls.” Well, “Hairspray” attempts to have both, and to my surprise, they have made a crowd-pleaser. The film works best for me when they are making fun of the racial climate of the 1960s. Blonsky does a great job in the lead role and her spirit will be contagious. But with Travolta in the fat suit and Walken in a joke shop, it’s still just an over-the-top comedy which tries to pull off a little too much.
Final Score: 7