WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
Cue the piano. (Acapella please) One hundred thirty-five minutes, how do you measure the length of a film, howa ‘bout love. RENT is the highly successful, longest running Broadway musical, making the latest Broadway to celluloid jump. From the infectious theme song, “Seasons of Love” to the gritty streets of East Village, NY; a handful of characters face death, poverty, and AIDS.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
Musicals are a very niche genre in the world of film. Once in a while, you’ll get a great film like THE SOUND OF MUSIC or MOULIN ROUGE that a group of audiences enjoy and that reaches a wider viewership. Most, however, are poorly made or feature god awful numbers, RENT is one of these. The ONLY decent song is at the beginning but then the film switches gears and EVERY following number is terribly written, off key, and painful to listen to. How you can make a sweet song like “Seasons of Love” and then produce complete sh*t songs for the rest of the production is beyond me. I think the heart of the story is genuine but if the music doesn’t enhance this, then stick to the drama people. It’s also annoying that every character sings, out of tune I might add, every single line in the script. That’s just cheesy.
A good musical like THE NEWSIES has not only a cool story, but it limits musical numbers to a few not every line. I realize that this is a Broadway adaptation but a FILM is conducted differently. What few positives there are in this film (a steamy Rosario Dawson) are drowned by shoddy directing by Chris Columbus and the terrible source music numbers. With such a high expectation of this translation, RENT turns out to be a thorough disappointment. The message is powerful but that is undercut (in my opinion) by the stupid presentation.
Special Features comprise two discs. On disc 1, we have Commentary by Director Chris Columbus and Selected Cast: This is a lot better than the film, or more entertaining anyway. Columbus talks about his translation choices and trouble with the MPAA. Mark and Roger also pop up for some in-jokes. If you happened to enjoy the film, check this out.
Deleted Scenes and Musical Performances: You can watch all five segments with option director commentaries. I didn’t like four of these, but the alternate ending is better than the original, because it ends with the beginning.
Documentary: No Day But Today >>1:52> This behemoth of a doc covers the history of the play from the creation by Jonathan Larson, to the Pulitzer, to casting. This is pretty impressive and could have made up a feature in itself.
PSAs for Jonathan Larson’s Performing Arts: These promotion PSAs are for anyone looking to unleash their musical talents, and if you do make it big, please don’t give us another RENT.
There’s also a set of previews including the hot MARIE ANTOINETTE.
To me, RENT represents a could have been instead of a great movie. It did not make a good translation from Broadway and furthermore, the songs fall flat. The DVD is good enough with a giant documentary and some decent commentary. This is just very disappointing.
>>Final Decision: Rent RENT if you must, but I don’t recommend it.