29 November 2005


Don’t you just hate it when one of your former roommates up and marries into a wealthy family, starts charging you rent after letting you live in a humongous flat for over a year, and tries to hook you up with a steady income? Doesn’t it make you want to have unprotected sex, pursue financially unstable careers, shoot up drugs, and sing emotional rock ballads in the rain/cold? Not really? Well, that’s what happens to those crazy NYC bohemians in Rent, the film adaptation of the award winning play by Jonathan Larson.

I L-O-V-E musicals, but Rent is not your typical musical. It’s very rock ‘n’ roll-ish. It features some pretty dark themes. The 80s fashion is pretty terrible. Frankly, it’s not my cup of tea. However, after seeing the 525,600 minutes [“Seasons of Love”] music video, I mean, trailer, I just had to see it, even if I suspected that I wouldn’t really be into it.

I never saw the stage production, nor did I make it through the entire OST, but I went into Rent hoping that I too would fall in love with the Pulitzer Prize winning musical that everyone’s talking about. Unfortunately, I came away still uncertain of Rent’s greatness.

It’s really hard to make fun of Rent, because

a) It’s a musical about AIDS, societal outcasts, poverty, love & friendship [yay for pro-social messages!]

b) It features a stellar cast including Idina Menzel [Wicked!], Jesse L. Martin [Law & Order!], Taye Digs [hot!], and a bunch of really talented, not-as-widely known actors from the original production of Rent.

c) The writer & composer of Rent, Jonathan Larson, tragically died on the night of the final dress rehearsal.

d) The stage production has won numerous, credible awards (I’m not talking People’s Choice or MTV. I’m talking Pulitzer & Tonys, people).

If you loved Rent, the stage production, you’ll probably love the film (even though Rosario Dawson plays Mimi). If you enjoy musicals but not a Rent fan, you will find the film bearable, if not, mildly entertaining. If you’re not into musicals, then Rent is probably not for you. If you hated Rent, then I don’t know why you went to see the film.

As far as film adaptations go, I think Chris Columbus did a solid job. We’re currently in an era, where, unless you are a Fox animated television series, it’s difficult to break into a meaningful song & dance number without making your audience a little uncomfortable. Columbus does a fine job of balancing the musical’s humor and borderline-campy rock numbers with the sincerity of the story’s themes (AIDs, death, poverty, friendship, and love). Granted that Columbus made a few blunders like filming Roger against the “Santa Fe” canyons while he sings some stirring rock ballad (too much like Britney’s Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman] or his liberal use of table-top dancing to signify joy, overall, I think his adaptation of Rent gives hope to the future of film adaptations of hit musicals (i.e., Wicked).

I can't say that I enjoyed Rent, but I'm definitely glad that I checked it out.

My recommendation: Definitely check out the trailer. As for the film, probably not a good pick for musical haters, homophobes, racists, or the close-minded, but for everyone else, I say it's worth checking out.
Tip: If at any point in the film you start to wonder why you ever heeded the recommendation of my crappy blog, just conjure up the "Seasons of Love" song and all will be better.

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