Thursday, March 15, 2007

Singing someone to death is impossible.

As I sit here watching West Side Story, I am irritated. It's not that they sing and dance, that's fine. Hey - Clint Eastwood and Lee Marvin made a musical western. So why couldn't a musical gang-war movie work? Oh right. Paint Your Wagon didn't really work, did it? I get it, West Side Story is Romeo and Juliet, with violence for guys and dancing for girls, and it becomes a classic because of the songs, which actually ARE great.

But here's my problem. Although it is difficult to look tough while singing, guys like Johnny Cash prove that it IS possible. However, it is definitely impossible to look tough while you're dancing. If you sit at home worrying about getting your butt kicked by Balki from Perfect Strangers or Niles from Frasier, then West Side Story may speak to you differently than it does me.

It's better than Grease, I'll give it that. I will even suspend my disbelief when it comes to the song-and-dance numbers, with the understanding that those are to entertain the people who don't like violent gang wars in movies. The biggest problem that is irking me now is that those gang wars look like they're being fought by kindergarten students detined to grow up as the next Richard Simmons backup dancers.

The fights are choreographed, like dances. Perhaps I'm spoiled by the likes of Scorcese and Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez, but I expect fights to look like fights, not a series of slaps and ballet kicks set to music. This is what makes West Side Story a relic of Hollywood, worth watching once, but not twice. Dated does not begin to describe this movie. And I find myself thinking, there really is no good way to dance someone to death. You could work out to Sweatin' to The Oldies for eleven hours, and you would just be a little sore and annoyed, not dead.

But after being subjected to Rush for an hour and a half straight the other day, I believe that there may in fact be a way to sing someone to death. But I will save that for the next post.

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