For the purpose of this article, I'm referring to live-action musical films. There'll be none of Disney's universally cherished cartoons mentioned here, which also means I shall not be giving that Hans Christian Anderson film adaptation that all girls aged under eight seem to be mad on a look in either (that's Frozen, if you hadn't guessed).
From all the film genres there are, musical ones are my least favourite. The idea of using a song to move a story along doesn't really do it for me. Even as a child I found the whole idea disquieting, irritating or bloody embarrassing; whilst hugely popular, some of the films listed as 'classics' or 'all time favourites' figure very low down in my opinion.
I'll start of by giving a quick mention to those musical features that everyone raves on about, but which I've managed to avoid like, thus far, a prostrate check-up. Grease (1978) - it seems like I'm probably the only person on the planet not to have seen this, however I see no need. Every song has been played-to-death, so I can't see how watching it will add any benefit... 'I get chills, and their multiplying', every time I hear Travolta or Newton-John begin to fill the airwaves with their tones. Gone With The Wind (1965) has been classified as a 'classic'; as had West Side Story (1961). I know the popular tunes to be lifted from it, but I've never seen the films and can't say I ever want to either. Other notable films I've never felt the itch to see includes Annie (the 1982 version or the even-less-appealing 2014 remake); Cabaret (1972); My Fair Lady (1964); Oliver (1968); High School Musical (2006); Dreamgirls (2006); Hairspray (2007); The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975); Guys and Dolls (1975); the list could go on. I'm sure some will say I'm missing a real treat amongst this lot, but seriously... life's too short (to debate it and watch them all!).
Some of the musical films I did see, but wish I hadn't (and thus would've included on the list above) include the already mentioned Into the Woods (2014). An impressive cast, including Meryl Street, Johnny Depp, Anna Kendricks, Emily Blunt and, least of all, James Cordon (who I liked in Gavin and Stacey), did nothing to make this film worth watching again. EVER. Please, please, please don't make the same mistake I did. Steer clear. The songs all sound the same and are so annoying that they make PSY's Waltham Gangnam Style seem like a classic up there with anything by The Beatles by comparison. Chicago (2002) was equally lacking in quality despite a decent cast. And Walking on Sunshine (2014) starring Gemma Arterton's younger sister Hannah Arterton, is so cringe-worthy my eyeballs almost turned themselves around in my head to escape the offensive spectacle assailing them.
However, if done well, the musical film can be a pleasure to behold. I don't have an outright favourite, but the ones I've watched the most times includes Mama Mia! (2008), Moulin Rouge (2001) and The Phantom of the Opera (2004).
My top ten:
- Mama Mia!
- Les Misérables
- Moulin Rouge!
- The Jersey Boys
- The Phantom of the Opera
- Rock of Ages
- Pitch Perfect
- Sweeney Todd
- Mary Poppins
Forgive me, I was scraping the barrel with my last two entries... though Poppins brings back such colourful memories from my childhood.
Like my taste in musical films being hit or miss, you can't argue with the success of them at the box office. Despite my dislike of Into The Woods, the film made a modest £200 million worldwide from a budget of £50 million. Future cash-cows in development include: Beauty and the Beast, Wicked, Cats, Jekyl and Hyde and a remake of Guys and Dolls. Love them or loath them, they're going to be about for a very long time.