Last night Julie and I used our Groupons to the Studio Movie Grill to go see “Les Miserables”. It wasn’t my top choice for a couple reasons that really aren’t good reasons. One reason was it didn’t start until 8:20pm, and I was going to be really hungry by that time. The second reason was it’s nearly 3 hours long. “Zero Dark Thirty” and “Django Unchained” were playing at the same time, and “The Last Stand” and “Broken City” were playing about an hour earlier. Julie totally nixed “The Last Stand” and later “Django Unchained”, and while “Broken City” was under consideration, it really never had a chance. How often do we get out to Oscar nominated films anyway? We had to do it. So I kind of secretly wished “Les Miserables” would be sold out when we got there so we could see “Zero Dark Thirty”, but at the same time I was in the mood for something less violent than what I had been watching the last couple days.
We arrived pretty early to avoid any possibility of a sell out, and the combination of my driving and an empty stomach made Julie sick on the way over. Good thing I snacked on Mini-wheats beforehand, because we had awhile until they seated and there were no shops to kill some time. They have assigned seats now, so I was able to get perfect seats. And we ordered food within a few minutes of sitting down, so it was ready once the previews started. While I usually get pizza, I got their coconut chicken strips this time, which were excellent. Julie got a pizza.
About 5 minutes into the movie, I knew I might be in trouble. I have never read “Les Miserables” or seen any movie adaptation. Nor have I seen the Broadway play, which I believe this movie was based. While I knew it was a musical, I didn’t know it was what I considered to be more an opera. In other words, all the dialogue is sung. Well, about 98% of it. Maybe I am the only person in the world who was not aware of this. I can’t say I was following this movie too closely. I found watching “Jesus Christ Superstar” painful and pretty much swore off any Andrew Lloyd Webber. Now I like musicals in which there is dancing and plenty of activity during the song, but this movie had very few scenes like that in my opinion. It was usually a person standing and singing as we watched. The lone exception would be a piece with Sasha Baron Cohen and Helen Bonham Carter, which almost felt like it belonged in another movie because it was so “fun.”
Did I think the movie was bad? Absolutely not. The acting and cinematography were terrific and the underlying story is good. But some scenes just felt really drawn out to me because of all the singing. It’s like the difference between going to a Catholic mass with singing and one without. The “singing mass” usually lasts one hour and the one without singing is 30 minutes. This is very true. And so what was a 2 hour and 45 minute movie could have been less than 90 minutes. OK, I wouldn’t go that far, but there’s no question it makes the difference.
Now I didn’t see “Lincoln” or any of the other best actor nominee’s movies this year, but I will say that Hugh Jackman was outstanding in this movie and I would very much like to see him win.
I just found out a little while ago that the Les Miserables movie that came out in 1998 starring Liam Neeson will be on TV tonight at 1:35pm. I set the DVR to record it.