Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Oh, Disney! Ever since I saw Enchanted last Friday night, I've been kinda obsessed with musical theatre. Enchanted is such a smart pastiche; if any studio other than Disney had released it, Disney would've been all over it with trademark infringements. It has so many satisfying motifs from the classic movies: the redheaded, wide-eyed heroine, the evil queen with killer eye makeup, the outfits, the cuddly animal friends, the vain suitor, the fat, buffoonish sidekick to the villain... Amy Adams is perfect in the role: you instantly believe she's a cartoon come to life.

And let's not forget the songs, by Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz. What I really loved about it was that it referenced the entire Disney history, from Snow White to Mary Poppins to The Little Mermaid, and had old-school stuff like those warbly massed choirs you used to get. 'Happy Working Song' is about as parodic as it gets - for the most part, it's played straight, and the precise fit of the genre requirements is what makes it so satisfying to watch.

The best thing about animated musicals is the setpieces they enable - ones that would be a logistical headache to put on stage. Today I have been obsessively watching clips from the Tony Awards and from various Disney adaptations, and I have to admit, The Little Mermaid is pretty lame as a stage production. One thing I really like about musicals is when they advance the plot and introduce characters in song (rather than expository dialogue), and for that I reckon one of the best is the opening setpiece of Beauty and the Beast, 'Belle'.

here are some of my other favourite movie musical numbers. Irritatingly, I couldn't find any of the Simpsons oeuvre on YouTube, or I'd have the Oh, Streetcar! medley and Stop The Planet Of The Apes, I Want To Get Off. First, 'Up There' from South Park - Bigger, Longer and Uncut.

'As The World Falls Down' from Labyrinth. Even when I was a kid I found this scene weirdly erotic. Also note how much her dress looks like Amy Adams's from Enchanted.

And the part I like most about this next clip is the expository dialogue at the beginning: vintage Broadway!

There are many more, but I am going to try and get to Dainty Sichuan now.

EDIT: FOLLOWING DAY. How could I have forgotten this?

And let's not forget 'I Wanna Be Like You' from The Jungle Book - still my favourite song from a film packed with great songs. (As an aside, 'Hakuna Matata' is a bit of a ripoff of 'The Bare Necessities', isn't it? Except that it has, "When I was a young warthoooooooooooog!")

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