As a fan of big, goofy sunglasses and songs about people who work on Mars, I decided to see the new Elton John biopic “Rocketman” the other day. I’m not a massive fan of Elton John, but I’m familiar enough with his stuff and I figured it’d be fun to watch some 1970s debauchery on the big screen.
Well, unlike pretty much every professional critic working today, I wasn’t big on the film.
Now, this isn’t a review of “Rocketman.” It’s a critique of the thing I hated about the movie: It’s a musical.
Musicals always have bothered me. Since I was a kid, if a character in a cartoon or movie started singing mid-sentence, I was out.
It’s kind of odd, because musicals are a combination of two things I love. But somehow, instead of getting the best aspects of film and music, I get the worst tendencies of both mediums.
To me, the attempt to mix drama and music usually waters down both.
What normally happens is that a promising story is compromised because of the necessity to add in random songs and the songs are mediocre because they exist only to serve a narrative function.
I’m not opposed to a character breaking the fourth wall, but when it’s through a song, I draw the line. I am taken out of the story – and not in a good way.
I can’t relate to a character who randomly breaks out into a well-rehearsed song-and-dance routine. If I were to actually meet someone who does that, I probably would not associate with them.
I’ve heard arguments that it’s just another narrative device, like a soliloquy in a Shakespeare play. But honestly, I’d probably hate “Hamlet” if the protagonist started singing to a skull.
You can send me recommendations for good musicals and call me a plebeian all you want, but I’ll continue to have a visceral reaction to the form. I know a great deal of talent goes into pulling off a musical and I admire anyone who can do it, but it’s lost on me.
At least I’ll never have to wait 17 hours for “Hamilton” tickets.