January 10, 2013

Les Miserables (2012)

Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway, Amanda Seyfried

I wish I could make snarky comments on the plot because although I have liked Les Mis (yes, I am cool enough to call it that) enough to see it several times on stage, I have some misgivings about parts of the story. But the story has been around long enough that criticizing the main storyline seems irrelevant. 

Les Mis is, indeed, a beloved musical that's been around since the 80's. (That would probably mean more if Cats were not also a beloved musical that ran for forever, but I suppose that's neither here nor there.) The last time I watched Les Mis was on a PBS special that starred Joe Jonas, so you can imagine this movie version was quite a few steps up from that. It also trumped the stage version because of the added special effects, set design, and word clarity you sometimes lack from sitting 3 balconies away from the person who is singing.

The fact is, Les Mis will probably be nominated for a whole slew of Oscars - Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor (Hugh Jackman), Best Supporting Actress (Anne Hathaway), and a whole bunch of other categories no one really pays attention to (aka costume design, original soundtrack, sound editing/sound mixing, whatever). **Note: I obviously wrote this before the nomination list came out today, and I was obviously right - go me** I think in the big categories, Anne Hathaway deserves it. Sure, she's in the movie for about a 1/10th of the total time, but remember when Judi Dench won it for Shakespeare in Love? Her voice sounds amazing, especially considering she manages to both cry and sing at the same time. Personally, I like her much better as the ugly, broken down Fantine than the roles where we're supposed to believe she's sexy (uh, Catwoman, really?!?). And even though Rachel Getting Married was a really pointless movie, I can understand why critics were fawning all over her in it -  she's just more believable as some cracked-out weirdo than the next Michelle Pfeiffer. Then again, critics always start raving the second anyone semi-attractive plays an ugly person. 

Who else sounds amazing in the movie? Hugh Jackman, of course. I'm continually surprised at his ability to transition between being badass Wolverine and this showtunes-singing guy. I mean, is the guy who poured a bucket of water over his topless body in Australia (thereby forcing me to press rewind on the DVD and watch it again) the same one as this dude in the movie whose face bears a resemblance to the old man Jafar morphs into to trick Aladdin in the jail? (And yes, I just made that comparison.)

The biggest surprise for me, was Amanda Seyfried. I always want to like her more than I really do. Sure, I know it's shallow, but her bug eyes just get me every time. I will still watch her movies, but I always want her to be just a little cuter. But in this movie, it didn't matter for two reasons: 
     1. She was a lot cuter than the guy they paired her up with, and 
     2. Her voice is amazing! I had no idea she could sing like that! I always just assume every actor who claims they can sing is another Jennifer Love Hewitt (who was big in Japan, ahem, ahem).

All in all, the movie delivers pretty much what you'd expect - a well-known story and good singing. That is, good singing from everyone except Russell Crowe. I know the director claimed to have every actor go through 3 hours of auditions for their role, but I'm not convinced he ever watched Russell sing before handing him this part. It's not that he sounds bad, per se  - though I have a lot more skepticism toward his band now, which is saying something because it has the worst band name I've ever heard - it's that he looks like he's mid-yawn when he sings. Maybe his mouth just doesn't open wide enough to project sound? I'm not sure, but it's about as awkward as watching Pierce Brosnan sing in Mamma Mia. Russell doesn't ruin the movie - I just wish there were a lot less of him and a lot more of Anne Hathaway. Yes, this is what it's come to - I'm rooting for the girl from The Princess Diaries. It could be worse, I suppose. Katherine Heigl could have been in this movie.

Final word: The movie is enjoyable and well done, but you can't help but start to look at your watch at times. Those times usually coincide with Russell Crowe singing.

1 comment:

  1. Russell happens to have "ying tao xiao kou". He can't help it.