The Flick Chicks

Judy Thorburn's Movie Reviews

Rent

Submit to DeliciousSubmit to DiggSubmit to FacebookSubmit to Google BookmarksSubmit to StumbleuponSubmit to TechnoratiSubmit to TwitterSubmit to LinkedIn

Judy Thorburn

Rent

Las Vegas Tribune - http://www.lasvegastribune.com
Las Vegas Round The Clock
- http://www.lasvegasroundheclock.com

The Women Film Critics Circle - http://www.wfcc.wordpress.com
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
">
kreatia@
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Flick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha Chemplavil

“RENT” – UPDATED MUSICAL HITS SOUR NOTE

The Broadway rock opera, Rent went on to win the 1996 Tony Award for Best Musical, The Pulitzer Prize, Drama Critics Award and other distinguished awards.  However, playwright/composer Jonathan Larson wasn’t able to see any of that come to light because he died of an aortic aneurysm just days before the final dress rehearsal at only 36 years of age. No doubt, that’s sad. It’s also unfortunate that I don’t have great things to say about the show, although I am sure it was something that Larson put his heart and soul into since it was a personal reflection of his life and the people he knew.

The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha Chemplavil, Rent, Musical, Broadway Show, Chris Columbus, Rosario Dawson, Taye Diggs, Wilson Jermaine Heredia, Jesse L. Martin, Idina Menzel,Adam Pascal, Anthony Rapp, Tracie Thoms

I saw the stage version of Rent some years back at the Aladdin’s Theatre of the Performing Arts, when the touring company made a stop in Las Vegas. I am big fan of musical theatre and although I didn’t hate it, I didn’t love it.  I thought it was overrated and certainly not worth the $100 ticket price. Yet, after seeing the movie, I can honestly say I like the stage show better.

Rent, the movie is really an adaptation of an adaptation of Puccini’s opera, La Boheme, about penniless Bohemians in Paris’ Latin Quarter in the 1830’s. Larson updated the story to the late 1980’s and moved the setting to New York’s East Village. What was initially a musical with no dialogue now has 20 minutes of spoken word added to the movie. Most of the original Broadway cast has reprised their roles for the screen except for Rosario Dawson who assumes the role of Mimi and newcomer Tracie Thoms stepping in as Joanne.

The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha Chemplavil, Rent, Musical, Broadway Show, Chris Columbus, Rosario Dawson, Taye Diggs, Wilson Jermaine Heredia, Jesse L. Martin, Idina Menzel,Adam Pascal, Anthony Rapp, Tracie Thoms

Rent tells the story of a circle of friends, an ethnically, and sexually mixed bag of impoverished artists in New York’s East Village in 1989 who are dealing with issues such as poverty, AIDS, drug addiction, and love while striving for success and acceptance.  Roger (Adam Pascal) is an HIV positive recovering heroin addict, musician/songwriter who can’t get a break and is pining over his deceased junkie girlfriend. His roommate Mark Cohen (Anthony Rapp) is a wannabee documentary filmmaker, never without his hand held camera ready to capture everything going on in and around his space. Mark still carries a torch for his ex, Maureen (Idina Menzel) a hot, flirtatious performance artist who left him for a lawyer named Joanne (Tracie Thoms). Downstairs neighbor, Mimi (Rosario Dawson), is a stripper with a crush on the emotionally shut down Roger.  She too is HIV positive, but spends every penny earned to support her drug addiction. Rounding out the group is Tom Collins (Jesse L. Martin) a recently fired MIT professor.  Upon returning home he is beaten and mugged in an alley, but is rescued by newfound soulmate/lover Angel (Wilson Jermaine Heredia), a free spirited, cross dressing, street musician, who also is slowly dying of AIDS. Angel is the soul of the film, the carrier of hope and an inspiration to his friends.

The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha Chemplavil, Rent, Musical, Broadway Show, Chris Columbus, Rosario Dawson, Taye Diggs, Wilson Jermaine Heredia, Jesse L. Martin, Idina Menzel,Adam Pascal, Anthony Rapp, Tracie Thoms

Enter Ben Coffin III (Taye Diggs), formerly one of their own, who they feel has joined the establishment and sold out since marrying a rich Long Island woman and becoming their landlord. Conflict arises when Ben informs the group that they can no longer live rent free, and will be evicted so that he can make room for a Cyberspace development. In order to save the building, Maureen stages a one-woman show in protest.  Ben responds by offering to forgo the rent if the protest is cancelled.

The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha Chemplavil, Rent, Musical, Broadway Show, Chris Columbus, Rosario Dawson, Taye Diggs, Wilson Jermaine Heredia, Jesse L. Martin, Idina Menzel,Adam Pascal, Anthony Rapp, Tracie Thoms

So there you have it… a musical about gays, lesbians, junkies, some who are HIV infected, and a couple of unemployed whiners; all who are pissed about having to actually pay rent like the rest of us. If my memory is correct, I somehow felt more connected to the characters in the stage version. I know I didn’t leave the theatre feeling like I do now, unsympathetic to a bunch of freeloaders. Sure, they are going through bad times. Don’t get me wrong. I especially feel for the terminally ill and the people who love them.  The message of being true to yourself, and the acknowledgment of wanting to be accepted is duly noted and rightfully conveyed.  But, I can’t condone it in the context of irresponsibility. Where are those talented artists and musicians, who make sacrifices for their art? I have little sympathy for a songwriter with only one song, a stripper, a street drummer, or a bunch of junkies. These losers need a wake up call. I don’t view Ben as the enemy. Why should I? He is the only one living in the real world. It’s not like he didn’t make them a great offer. Give me a break. My recollection is in the play that he was presented in a more despicable way.

The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha Chemplavil, Rent, Musical, Broadway Show, Chris Columbus, Rosario Dawson, Taye Diggs, Wilson Jermaine Heredia, Jesse L. Martin, Idina Menzel,Adam Pascal, Anthony Rapp, Tracie Thoms

Director and self admitted Rent devotee, Chris Columbus, known for young audience pleasers such as Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Home Alone, and Mrs. Doubtfire moves into another genre with Rent. His input adds a grittier, darker look to New York’s lower east side environment than could be represented on stage, but that’s about it.

The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha Chemplavil, Rent, Musical, Broadway Show, Chris Columbus, Rosario Dawson, Taye Diggs, Wilson Jermaine Heredia, Jesse L. Martin, Idina Menzel,Adam Pascal, Anthony Rapp, Tracie Thoms

Most of the songs are forgettable, though the actors are great and lend emotional strength to the lyrics.  Dawson looks great with hair extensions, bringing the right amount of fiery passion and sex appeal to her role. But, her voice lacks the resonance and strength of the others in the ensemble cast. A scene where she appears near death, but suddenly sits up stating she was drawn to the light comes across as downright laughable.

The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha Chemplavil, Rent, Musical, Broadway Show, Chris Columbus, Rosario Dawson, Taye Diggs, Wilson Jermaine Heredia, Jesse L. Martin, Idina Menzel,Adam Pascal, Anthony Rapp, Tracie Thoms

There are a few fine moments. Seasons of Love (aka 525,600 minutes), is a song you’ll remember. A tribute to La Boheme with the vibrant song and dance number, “La Vie Boheme”, done on top of a restaurant table was a Broadway showstopper, and is reenacted here.

Also a few new memorable sequences have been added for the screen. Highlights are the “Tango: Maureen” fantasy sequence and the emotionally powerful duet “Take Me or Leave Me” between Maureen and Joanne at their “commitment party”.

The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha Chemplavil, Rent, Musical, Broadway Show, Chris Columbus, Rosario Dawson, Taye Diggs, Wilson Jermaine Heredia, Jesse L. Martin, Idina Menzel,Adam Pascal, Anthony Rapp, Tracie Thoms

Times have changed since the 1980’s and the issues are old news. I expect limited audience appeal, based on the subject matter. However, die-hard fans known as Rentheads, and gays will most likely be flocking to the theatres.  My recommendation for others who are interested in seeing this latest musical adaptation is that you don’t have to be in a rush.  Wait and rent it!