Throughout the ages, we have looked upon this mysterious world we live in and asked some important questions: Where do we come from? Where are we going? How have The Simpsons been on TV for so damned long?
There have been others as well. Why can’t broccoli taste like chocolate? Why do we sink slowly in quicksand? Who thought 158 goddamned minutes of people singing an adaptation of an 1862 French novel would be a good idea?
It’s not that singing in movies is bad, it’s just that singing in movies is terrible. Okay, I’ll give a pass to Toy Story 2 and that time when Jessie looks out the window and says she misses Emily and wants to feel alive and, damnit, I’m not gonna cry. I am NOT going to cry!
If you haven’t figured it out yet, Les Miserables is a singing movie. (There’s a French accent in that word somewhere I think. Miserábles? Miserablës? Misęrables?). And when I say a singing movie, I don’t mean there’s a few musical numbers a’la The Sound of Music (awful!), Pitch Perfect (awful-er), Once (This ain’t so bad) or even the magnificent Dancer in the Dark. No, I mean that the entire movie is singing (or a loose facsimile of such) as 100% of it is just people warbling their lines in a kind of awkward painful tuneful speaking as if they were told the bus would blow up and all the passengers on board would die unless they kept stringing their words together with musical notes, no matter if Keanu Reeves showed up or not. I’ll admit, the bit with Hathaway and her weepy, watery tune about life punching her dreams right in the solar plexus like Hulk Hogan off the top rope is the musical highlight, but that’s also like saying the bit where Indiana Jones escapes in a lead-lined refrigerator during a nuclear blast is that film’s highlight. It’s over-the-top is what I’m saying. It’s also the only thing anyone remembers. At least she was singing a song! The thing about the rest of the singing in this movie is that it sounds like they were literally just making it up as they were going. Yes, there were a few other “songs” in there, with you know, like melodies and bridges and stanzas and other fancy music words, but for most of the movie, it’s this trilling of dialog as if they are running up and down the musical scales in a How Many Octaves Can You Butcher Contest. It’s distracting and frightfully annoying. And I just said “frightfully”, which means I’ve officially become my grandmother. Next, I’ll be listening to polka records and baking raisin cookies.
The story of Lés Mîsêræblęs is pretty simple. Jean Valjean (Jackman) is an ex-convict who, inspired by a kindly bishop, thinks it’s time to get his life on track, so naturally he becomes mayor of a town in France and the owner of a factory though he is always worried about being captured again by police inspector Javert (Crowe), who is ruthless in hunting down ex-cons, thinking they cannot change for the better. Meanwhile, Fantine (Hathaway) a girl at the factory, blames Valjean for her being cast into a life of prostitution and kicks the bucket so he feels responsible and agrees to take care of her illegitimate daughter Cosette (Seyfried) while escaping Javert, who grows up into a hottie (Cosette, not Javert)(Although Javert is a fine looking gentleman, too) and attracts boys and then there’s the Paris Uprising of 1832 and everyone dies. But not really because in the end, their spirits (wtf?) all climb the holy barricade with the rebellious Parisians and no one is freaked out. Did I say simple? It’s like if Terrence Malik directed an adaptation of See Spot Run. You’d recognize the dog but would have no idea why it is related to Brad Pitt and making Sean Penn cry. I created a flowchart to help you follow along.
Have you ever been watching Ridley Scott’s Gladiator, soaking in all that Russell Crowe mojo as he whacks and hacks a bunch of brawny Romans and a tiger and thought: “Gee, you know what this movie needs? Singing!” Of course you haven’t. You have a fully functioning prefrontal cortex and therefore are able to make complex decisions and have greater problem solving skills, allowing you to recognize when something is already as good as it can get. (If you don’t have a prefrontal cortex, I hope your room at the ward is comfortable, and don’t panic if a giant, mute, Native American visits you in your sleep with a pillow.) Despite Russell Crowe already being part of a band called 30 Odd Foot Of Grunts (not making that up), the man simply can’t sing. He’s a fine actor, and if you’re reading this Mr. Crowe, please understand that I’m only saying it because it’s entirely true and you should stop it right now. Seriously. Stop it. Right now. Personally, I blame the film’s director. And the producers. And the cast. And the caterer who must have had a listen at least once. Someone surely should have brought the man aside and gave him a little talk. You know, like, “Hey, Russ (I imagine people close to him call him Russ). About this whole singing thing. It’s cute. I get it. A few years ago . . . wait, who am I kidding? A lot of years ago, you probably thought it was gonna be a sure thing with the ladies. I know. But it’s just not, well, how should I put this? It’s dreadful. You’re dreadful. There are small animals outside the set gnawing at the woodwork thinking they’re about to get laid. Please, stop.” Maximus would not be happy.
Then there are the close ups. Oh my goodness golly, the close ups! So many! Director Tom Hooper clearly loves his actor’s faces, spending much of the film trying to crawl into the facial pore’s of each cast member. And in a theater where each face is 22ft (6.71m) tall, slobbering and blubbering about the screen, it becomes the stuff of night terrors and doctor-prescribed medication. From scene to scene, cut to cut, we are given a Hollywood Celebrity Tour of famous noses and the phlegm there within. The last time I was this close to a person I didn’t know who was crying that hard I was telling a claustrophobic-panicked woman to press the 6th floor button in a sardine-like-packed elevator. Sportswear, please.
I mentioned the slobbering and the blubbering, right? There’s slobbering and the blubbering. Honestly, there’s more crying here than in the Crying Game, which frankly speaking, featured a lot less crying than the title implied. And *spoiler*! There was no game either. I didn’t see any dice. Or a gameboard even. Doesn’t matter. My point is, the characters in this film are just miserable . . . HEY! That’s the title! I don’t mind a sad story. Heck, I bawled my eyes out when Sarah Conner pressed that big red button and crushed the Terminator. I was like Vader at the end of Episode III: “Nooooo!” He came back in the next movie, though. But as a good guy. Phfffft. Lame.
By this point in my review, probably the biggest question on your mind is, isn’t the title of Terminator Genisys spelled wrong? No? Well it should be. Look at that title. It’s an “e” Hollywood. Don’t think you’re being clever. Just ‘cuz Tarantino did it that one time with Basterds, doesn’t mean you can get away with it, too. Anyway, you’re actually probably wondering why I went to see Lēs Mįsèräblės in the first place, and that’s a very good question. The answer is easy. I was straight up juked by the marketing. Yes, sure, there was Hathaway warbling away, but the rest of the trailer was images of some bad-ass actors and actresses in what looked like a pretty cool dramatic period piece with lots of action and emotion. Take a look:
See what I mean?
Also, my girlfriend made me go.
This movie was literally, physically painful to sit through. It dragged on and on (kinda like this review) and had more endings than the Lord of the Rings trilogy. When it was over, a few women in the back of the theater started clapping. So did I, for entirely opposite reasons. But since I had drinking straws jammed into my ear canals, I think everyone pretty much knew where I stood.
I rate it one Terminator biting a partially-eaten Homer Simpson donut out of five Terminators biting a partially-eaten Homer Simpson donut (and that’s only because the theater has the best caramel popcorn in the city).
Thanks so much for reading, everyone. And thanks, Eric at TheIPC for this great festival and allowing us to submit and read from this awesome community of amazing writers! Cheers, all!
David from ThatMomentIn.com