random reviews, recollections & reminiscings

Friday, December 30, 2005

DVD REVIEW: Millions (2005) ****

Millions (2005) Big Poster
PG (for thematic elements, language, some peril and mild sensuality)
1 hr. 37 min.
written by: Frank Cottrell Bryce
produced by: Graham Broadbent, Andrew Hauptman, & Damian Jones
directed by: Danny Boyle

Here's a movie about a coupla kids that come upon a bag full of a million dollars....for adults. Yeah, it's a real sweet movie about two brothers but the true messages it holds will really hit home more for adults than children. If I had seen every movie released this year (in other words, if I got paid to review movies) this one would be in the top five of my top ten. As it is, it is easily on my Top 10 best films of 2005 list. It's a real sweet treat that'll leave you thinking about it long after viewing!

Damian Cunningham (Alexander Nathan Etel) is a 7 year-old boy with an imagination so vivid he believes he sees famous Catholic Saints in the flesh. This could be due to his vast knowledge of all the stats on these Saints, his inspirational faith, or a way to deal with the recent loss of his mum. His 9 year-old brother Anthony (Lewis Owen McGibbon) is much more realistic and practical and sees Damian's bizarre knowledge and behavior downright weird. In fact, on their first day at a new school together he asks Damian to try acting normal for once and be like all the other kids. Yet, that's what's so sweet about Damian is that he's so true to himself. He speaks his heart.

The movie begins with their father, Ronnie (James Nesbitt) recently moving them into a home in a newly built community near the rail in suburban Liverpool. When a duffel bag filled with $265,000 falls outta the sky (it would appear) lands on Damian's cardboard fort near the house it sets he and his brother on an adventure that leads him to see what true wealth really is. As they both try and figure out what to do with their new found loot they better figure it out fast because the UK is about to switch its currency from Pounds to Euros in one week.

So what do Damian and Anthony decide to do with alla that loot? There were plenty of times while watching where I thought, "what would I do?" Well, what's cool about the brothers is that their are different enough that they both have their own ideas as to how best to utilize their windfall. At first they start to give some away to friends and then they treat a huge table of homeless folk at the local Pizza Hut. Yet, while Damian wants to continue their charity work, Anthony wants to investt he money. Tension builds between the two when Damian donotes $10,000 pounds to a visiting charity at school that would help less fortunate villagers in Africa. Of course this was right after Anthony had just got done warning him that giving too much away at a time wil draw too much attention to them.

I'm not gonna mention where the money came from although the movie does go into detail on that. Mainly, cuz I see that as a subplot that although integral, takes away from the real story which involves the boys, their father, and Dorothy. Now, Dorothy (Daisy Donovan) is the woman who works at the charity that finds Damian large donation in a donation basket. I also won't mention much more about the film, I'll leave alla that for you to discover. It's about how these boys deal with the death of their mother in funny and serious ways. It's about their lonely father dealing with raising two boys alone and possibly getting to know Daisy.

The direction and writing of Millions is wonderful. There are special effects that serve the wonder and awe of the story and that's it. There are sporatic appearances by Saints that are there to help and guide Damien thru dealing with life without mum and his money problems. Danny Boyle ("Trainspotting" & "24 Days Later") deserves great credit for establishing his range and making a family movie that isn't "dumbed down".

The cast starting with the brothers is amazing. It's easy to find cute kids but finding cute kids that can act is hard. There's onlt so many Dakota's or Haley Joels out there. It's sad that this movie isn't more popular than it is. I laughed, cried, and was surprised as I watched it and I thought, here's a family movie that has a great message of faith for adults and children. There have been movies in the past about chracters who come upon sudden cash. It's nuthin' new. I automatically think of "A Simple Plan" with Billy Bob Thornton. The only thing both movies have in common is that coming across this money did not necessarily make life any better. But, here the money is simply a tool that helps the brothers to see what being good is and what true wealth is. I highly recommend this heartwarming film about miracles and millions.

Special Features: The movie has a great full-length audio commentary by director Danny Boyle and screenwriter Frank Cottrell Boyce. Some deleted scenes and behind-the-scenes featurettes.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

DVD REVIEW: After The Sunset (2004) ***

After the Sunset (2004) big poster
PG-13 (for sexuality, violence and language)
1 hr. 40 min.
written by: Paul Zbyszewski
produced by: Beau Flynn, Jay Stern, & Tripp Vinson
directed by: Brett Ratner

Yeah, so I'm trying to get caught up on some movie watching lately. Here's a movie that I didn't really have an interest to go see in the theaters, so I figured I'd get around to it in the comfort of my own home. That I did.

When Roger Ebert reviewed this film back in November of 2004 he wrote that there was much about the movie that was unbelievable. Well, yeah, sure there is. It's a heist movie mostly set in the sun-soaked Virgin Islands, it's gonna have a sense of disbelief. This is one of those typical "one-more-job" movies about a coupla thick as romantic jewel thieves Max (Pierce Brosnan) and Lola (Salma Hayek) and the obsessed FBI agent Lloyd (Woody Harrelson) who has routinely failed in capturing them. It's a simple movie with a simple plot and pleasures that is barely saved actors that seem like there are having a great time (and who wouldn't in a film shoot in the Virgin Islands).
It all starts out with a diamond heist in Los Angeles by Max and Lola that is supposedly to be their "last" and would see them retiring in St. Lucia. After what is indeed a successful albeit assault-of-our-common-sense steal from agent Lloyd, we then see itchy Max trying to assimilate to his new life of paradise. Beautiful woman. Sun. Lobster. Plenty of Money. Nice car. Nice beachfront home. How hard could that be to get used to? Well, once a thief always a thief. Just as Max starts to get itchy Agent Lloyd shows up in his home, sitting in his comfy chair and drinking his pricey cognac.

It seems that there's a big cruise liner named the "Diamond Cruise" that's docked on the island for several days and Lloyd wants to make sure Max knows he knows why he's really there. Yes, there's a special diamond on that ship. Thus begins the cat-and-mouse games between the the three of them. Which was actually quite entertaining. Its was fun to see Brosnan and Harrelson together pseudo-bonding (to the point of being caught in bed together) in a kinda "keep your friends close and your enemies closer" kinda feel.

It was especially fun to see a nod to Spielberg when Max and Agent Lloyd return drunk from fishing singing,"Show Me the Way to Go Home," a song from the infamous drunken sing-a-long-at-sea in "Jaws". Yet, it was not cool to see a classic romantic "nursing wound" scene from "Raiders of the Lost Ark" literally replicated here. Hey, Ratner, there's homage and then there's stealing! Still, Ratner did a great job directing the debut episode of the new "Prison Break" series on Fox that premiered this past fall. His next gig is filling the shoes of Brian Singer in "X-Men 3" which makes me a lil nervous.

There are other characters added to the story with the intention to bring more to the overall plot. But like the other characters, the actors turn out to be more interesting than the characters. A decent subplot is added that involves local crime boss kingpin Robert Moor'e (Don Cheadle) and local police officer Sophie (Naomie Harris). I Iiked Harris as the feisty officer who can hold her own when she reluctantly teams up with Lloyd as he trails Max to make sure that the aforementioned diamond stays on that cruise ship. Cheadle gets involved when he asks Max to steal the diamond for him saying it would be economically good for the island (uh huh). For the short amount of time he has, Cheadle of course shines in this role.

Brosnan has been good at slowly moving outta the Bond limelight by taking roles like Max and his roles in "Thomas Crown" and "Tailor of Panama" that are "spy- similar". I don't think he's gonna stick to this pattern cuz of his roles in "Evelyn" and his upcoming film "The Matador", but then again he is scheduled to do a sequel to "Thomas Crown". Ah well, he was the best Bond since Connery and he's good in these suave spy/thief roles.

The movie is well-paced, well-acted, & well-directed by Ratner (Rush Hour, Red Dragon) but it could be the standard "cat-and-mouse" plot that doesn't make me rate this any higher. It does suffer a lil from the implausible twist ending but then again it began with an implausible scene as well. So, wuddya want? If ya like these actors already and ya wanna tour of the Virgin Islands....then here's yer flick! Would it not be for the talented cast, I woulda given it two stars.

NOTE: I found it interesting & impressive that both this movie and "The Bridge of San Luis Rey" were composed and scored by music veteran Lalo Shifrin (he did the original infamous "Mission Impossible" TV theme along with over 200 film and TV scores). Pretty cool for a 73 year old dude from Buenos Aires!

DVD REVIEW: The Bridge of San Luis Rey (2005) **

The Bridge of San Luis Rey (2005) big poster

PG (for thematic elements, some disturbing images and some sensuality)
2 hrs. 4 min.
written by: Mary McGuckian, Thornton Wilder (novel)
produced by: Michael Cowan, Samuel Hadida, Garret McGuckian, Mary McGuckian, & Denise O' Neil
directed by: Mary McGuckian

I wanted to like this movie. Really. As soon as I saw the cast of Robert DeNiro, Gabriel Byrne, Kathy Bates, Harvey Keitel, & F. Murray Abraham, I thought surely this will be good. I had heard about it and saw it on imdb many times as "in production." Yet, I never saw a release date. I think it may have had a short life in the theater around June 2005, but I'm not sure. So, I then saw it sitting there on the shelf at the video store (yeah, I still go to video stores) and it looked promising.

The movie is based on Thornton Wilder's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel that tells the story of a rickety old bridge (think "Temple of Doom"-only worse) in the early-1700's that has spanned a deep gorge in Peru for ages. When the bridge suddenly collapses--plunging five people to their deaths--the tragedy causes a wave of superstition that engulfs the villagers as they believe they are destined for continued misfortune. Only Brother Juniper (Byrne), who witnessed their tragic demise, can find the connections to divine intervention that will quell the townspeople's fears. Brother Juniper stands before the Archbishop of Peru (De Niro) and the Viceroy of Peru (Abraham) and poses the question as to whether the incident was an act of God or just a simple accident.

Sounds interesting, right? A good mystery perhaps? Boring is more like it! The costumes, on location filming in Spain, and music by veteran composer Lalo Shifrin were amazing. But, man what a snoozer! How could it be so with such fine actors, though? I dunno. I'm sure the book is better. Coulda been poor adapting or editing or even, perhaps, miscasting. But, half the time I had no clue who was who and/or what was going on.

The idea of investigating the lives of these five people is interesting. But, it turns out the characters were not all that interesting. Many of the characters like the Viceroy or the Archbishop fell flat. Could be cuz DeNiro was just not a decent fit or that Abraham was phoning it in. The only characters somewhat interesting to me were the harlequin Uncle Pio (Keitel) for the complexities of love he showed and The Marquesa (Bates) who is starving for the love of her estranged daughter. Overall though, I felt like I should care more about these characters than I did.

I found out that this was actually a remake of a 1946 film of the same name. There was also a 1958 television film. If you have time to really sit down and concentrate for some uninterrupted viewing and you like period films with great costumes....check it out. It seemed to me that what can be connected and learned from the five people who died is that they were the only five characters who were true to the power of love. It's a classic romantic idea but still....boring when there's no investment.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

REEL REVIEWS: The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe (2005) ***

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion , the Witch & the Wardrobe (2005) big early

2 hrs. 12 min.
Rated PG (for battle sequences and frightening moments.)
Written by: C.S. Lewis (novel), Andrew Adamson, Ann Peacock, Christopher Markus, & Stephen McFeely (screenplay)
Produced by: Mark Johnson & Philip Steuer
Directed by: Andrew Adamson

Here's what I've found with The Chronicles of Narnia....even if you accept and appreciate the so-called Christian themes, if you don't get into talking animals, magic, & fur coats....this movie ain't gonna be for you. That's just an observation. You're still entitled to go and check it out for yourself. I enjoyed thrilling, good (Aslan the lion) vs. evil (Jadis' the human White Witch) story and I'll tell ya why.....

The story of the four Pevensie children--Lucy, Edmund, Susan, and Peter--starts with the book The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. While not the first chronological book (that would be The Magician's Nephew) in the series, it's still the book in which we are introduced to the children that discover the land of Narnia. After being shipped off to the country home of an elderly professor in order to escape the London bombings of WWII, the youngest child Lucy finds an entrance to Narnia through a magical wardrobe while playing hide-and-seek with her siblings.

Lucy enters a snowy, charming land that is introduced to her by a timid faun, Mr. Tumnus (played by James McAvoy), the first creature she runs into near a street lamppost in the middle of a forest. He curiously invites her back to his Pooh-like home for some tea. When she returns to her siblings in the professor's home none of them believe what she's seen. To her it feels like she's been gone an hour or so, but to them only seconds. Georgie Henley plays Lucy with such delight and purity. She experiences life with such awe and optimism that it is just plain fun to look at what we discovers through her eyes.

Edmund is quite the opposite though. He is the type of sibling that is stuck being the second stringer all the time. Often goofing off and sometimes antagonistic, his older brother Peter (William Mosely) is often trying to keep him in line like a father they both obviously don't have. While his other sister Susan (Anna Popplewell) tries her best to keep some type of civility between the two in an effort to retain some type of family for little Lucy.

One night, he secretly follows Lucy back into the wardrobe and stumbles upon the snowy terrain of Narnia himself. He's here! There's no denying the truth behind Lucy's breathless reports. Although there is no Mr. Tumnus for him. Not even Lucy. Instead, Edmund (Skandar Keynes) encounters and is befriended by the ominous White Witch, who sits him up on her frosty carriage and promises him all the Turkish Delight he can eat. Yum! (I guess, never had one). Edmund promises the Witch that he will return with his siblings. She seems suspiciously adamant that this happen. Of course, with Edmund likes the feeling of interest the Witch has in him. He's used to being overlooked and unappreciated. Little does he know the plane she has for him and his family.

Eventually all four of them walk through the wardrobe to Narnia and meet up with friendly Mr. and Mrs. Beaver. Here we see the first of many CGI (computer-generated) characters of the film. Some will turn out to be friendly (like the Beavers and Mr. Fox) while others downright mean (the Witch's hench-er-wolf-pack). The Beavers give the kids the lowdown on Narnia. How Mr. Tumnus was taken by the Witch for associating with a human, how the land wasn't always icy and snowy, and how the animals weren't always living in fear. It was Jadis, the White Witch, (the wonderful Tilda Swinton) who has cast Narnia in an eternal winter spell. They stated that they believed that a prophesy that tells of two sons of Adam and two sons of Eve will help the noble and mystical lion ruler Aslan, upon his return, fight the Witch and her minions restore Narnia to its glory.

Edmund doesn't like hearing this about his new found friend the White Witch in such bad light. He bails on his siblings and searches for her ice castle in search of all that she had promised him. Of course that was on the condition that he would bring his family to her. She gets royally ticked and shackles Edmund in her icy dungeon with Tumnus. Dah! All for them gross looking Turkish Delights. Real nice!

Leaving Peter, Susan, and Lucy as his rescuers, as they embark on a perilous journey to save their brother. During which Father Christmas suits them up with some goodies, uh, weapons that it is, that will help in their battle against evil. Of course, the real help comes when they hook up with Aslan (powerfully voiced by Liam Neeson) and his faithful mythical followers of beasts, dwarfs, fauns, centaurs, and giants. An apocalyptic battle ensues with every animal imaginable available, from a unicorn to a cheetah to a phoenix. We know who wins.

There is enough character development and talent in these child actors that you believe the challenges and trails they accept. It doesn't necessarily just happen.You see them bicker and work things out and doubt. They definitely draw inspiration and motivation from Aslan. He is scene as some type messianic leader that will lead the land out of darkness with the help of these children. Who does that sound like I wonder? Heh. There's even a parallel to Christ in a particular decision Aslan makes with the White Witch in order to save man, er, animal-kind.

These books have been scrutinized for years with adults saying they foster racism, depicts sexism, and subliminally hammers Christianity. Sigh. You know what? It's a fantasy book for children, people! Irish Christian apologetic author C.S. Lewis wrote the seven Chronicles of Narnia book back in the mid 1950's as children's fantasy-adventure. Read into it what you will. I read the books as a child and fondly remember the 1979 animated television version. I know the book is better but this was certainly an amazing thing to see in the theater.

Lewis' early life has echoes within the Chronicles stories. Born in Belfast in 1898, Lewis' family moved to a large house in the country when he was seven. Like the movie, the house contained long hallways and empty rooms, and Lewis and his brother invented make-believe worlds while exploring their home. Like Caspian and Tirian (form the other books), Lewis lost his mother at an early age, and like Edmund, Jill and Eustace (other books again), he spent a long, miserable time in English boarding schools. During World War II, many children were evacuated from London because of air raids. Some of these children stayed with Lewis at his home in Oxford. So, he obviously didn't pull all of this outta a hat. He's got some life experience invested in these stories and I can dig that.

With technology as it is now, the story could only have been made today. It makes sense that it comes out now. I went to see it with a group of friends on opening day, December 9th, in Houston, TX to a packed theater. We saw all ages around us enjoying the film. I'd use your discretion as to whether your wee lil ones see this. It does get pretty graphic. Consider it a cinematic combo of the Harry Potter and LOTR flicks. Overall, it's a good time at the movies but ya gotta be able to swallow the whole talking animals and messianic lions....some may not be able to walk through that wardrobe and that's alright.

Friday, December 2, 2005

REEL REVIEWS: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005) ***

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005) poster

rated PG-13 (for sequences of fantasy violence and frightening images.)
2 hrs. 30 min.

novel by J.K. Rowling
screenplay by Steven Kloves
produced by David Heyman
directed by Mike Newell

Year four at Hogwarts finds the now adolescent Harry competing in the Triwizard Championship or some such nonsense. Fans of J.K. Rowling's books no doubt know exactly what happens and will only find fault in whatever description I come up with and the rest of us don't really care. At any rate, as a movie, Goblet of Fire is a step backward from Alfonso Cuaron's work on Prisoner of Azkaban. Mike Newell takes over as director and he does a fine, if uninspired job.

The Goblet of Fire judges who gets in and who doesn't. On that fateful night, three champions names are spit out of the goblet and read by Dumbledore. But then the Goblet spits out one other....Harry's. These two major events point to the return of Lord Voldemort. Dumbledore and the other teachers sense it, but it is inevitable. It would appear Harry is no longer safe at Hogwarts. This fourth installment tries to be the most dramatic, and also the scariest. It does a great job in setting mood and all but does not flesh out enough details in the mystery surrounding Voldemoort f or me to get too concerned for Harry.

In the beginning of the movie, at the Quidditch World Cup, Voldemort's followers gather and wreak havoc. Then, at Hogwarts, a legendary event takes place....the Triwizard Tournament! The cool thing about the Triwizard Tournament is that here we are introduced to student representatives from three different wizarding schools. They all compete in a series of increasingly challenging contests such as stealing a golden egg from a dragon, rescuing friends from underwater doom, and a foliage labyrinth that makes Nicholson's demise in The Shining look tame.

Seeing all the different students was refreshing. Not the I've gotten tired of Ron (Rupert Grint), Hermione (Emily Watson) and Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) but it's kinda like meeting a foreign exchange student for the first time. You read about the country but never really met anyone from there much less thought that you ever would. Remember that? Well, here some of the stand out "foreigners" are Durmstrang's Institute's Quidditch superstar Victor Krum, (Stanilsav Ianevski) followed by Beauxbatons' Academy exquisite Fleur Delacour (Clemence Posey) and finally, Hogwarts' popular all-around golden boy Cedric Diggory (Robert Pattinson). All three of these kids also are also chosen by the Goblet and must compete with Harry.

This is the first Potter film where we see signs of sparking pre-teen hormones and all that that brings. In an effort to build community and diversity, Hogwart's throws a high school dan-uh, er....a Yule Ball. Harry admits to Ron that it's easier to fight a fire-breathing dragon that find a girl to ask to the ball. There are some great "teen character" scenes here. Like when Hermione tells run to grow a pair cuz he didn't have the courage to come out and ask her to the bloody ball. As well as the awkwardness of seeing Harry dance with his date while eyeing the gal he really likes, Cho Chang (Katie Leung). These moments actually bring some great development to these familiar characters but it takes away from what's supposed to be the mystery of the film.
Indeed, concern of rumors of some nefarious plot against Hogwart's form the evil Voldemoort looms. So much that Dumbledore asks Alastor "Mad-Eye" Moody, the eccentric new Defense Against the Dark Arts professor, to keep his magical eye trained on the teenage wizard. Moody (the great Brendan Gleeson) is quite an eccentric character looking like a mad pirate and acting like that uncle that everyone's embarrassed by at holidays. But should we really fear for the safety of these characters? I mean there's what, six books and from those this is the fourth movie? Hmmm.

So, compared to Azkaban, Goblet is visually pretty flat. Oh sure there are wonderful special effects to look to it but it just didn't capture me as Azkaban did. It's just the pace of the movie seemed off to me, somehow. None of these Potter movies are notable for their brevity but the movie seemed excessively long to me. And yeah, I know it's a long book but if the movie feels long, that means they could have cut even more of it. And with each movie, I'm more and more convinced that Rupert Grint, the redheaded moptop who plays Ron, is the only one of these young actors with a wizard's chance in Hollywood of having any kind of "post-Potter" acting career.

Still, Goblet of Fire is fairly entertaining and has at least a handful of fun and impressive sequences. I give it the rating I did mainly because of the fine cast of actors and characters that these films have been able to maintain. Plus, as near as I can tell, most of my complaints with this series are complaints with the source material and not the films themselves. But that still makes this the least satisfying of the Potter films since Chamber of Secrets.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005) big teaser

Thursday, December 1, 2005

REEL REVIEWS: Rent (2005) ***

Rent (2005) poster

rated PG-13
(for mature thematic material involving drugs
and sexuality, and for some strong language.)
2 hrs. 15 min.
story, music & lyrics by Jonathan Larson
screenplay by Steve Chbosky
produced by Jeffrey Seller, Kevin McCollum, & Allan S. Gordon
directed by Chris Columbus

When a stage musical is touted as a "revolutionary rock opera" I start to feel a lil suspect. I mean, the only rock operas I'm care about are the Who's "Tommy" and "Quadrophenia." I remember getting so sick of hearing the ads on the radio for this musical when it was making it's theatrical rounds. Maybe it's cuz I know how hype can be and how overexposed some forms of entertainment can get. Maybe it was cuz radio stations just play the same ads over and over. Regardless, I never saw the musical Rent on stage and now that I've seen the movie version, I wish I had.

Based on Puccini's La Boheme, tells the story of one year in the life of friends living the Bohemian life in modern day East Village New York. Among the group are our narrator nerdy love struck filmmaker Mark; the object of his affection his former lover, Maureen; Maureen's Harvard educated public interest lawyer lover Joanne; Mark's roommate HIV+ former junkie, Roger; Roger's lover the HIV+ drug addicted exotic dancer, Mimi; their former roommate HIV+ computer genius Tom Collins; Collins' HIV+ drag queen street musician lover Angel; and Benny, a former member of the group who married money and has since become their landlord and the opposite of everything they stand for. Shows how much changes or doesn't change in the 525,600 minutes that make up a year.
This film adaptation of Jonathan Larson's Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award winning rock opera tells the story of one year in the life of a group of bohemians struggling in modern day East Village New York. The story centers around Mark (Anthony Rapp) and Roger (Adam Pascal), two roommates. While a former tragedy has made Roger numb to life, Mark tries to capture it through his attempts to make a film. In the year that follows, the group deals with love, loss, AIDS, and modern day life in one truly powerful and at times moving story. Rosario Dawson, Jesse L. Martin, Idina Menzel, Wilson Jermaine Heredia, Tracie Thoms, and Taye Diggs also star.
I liked the movie well enough. The songs remained with me as I left the theatre as well as the strong performances (I say performances cuz this was acting and singing). I've been in a few musicals so I know that combining acting and singing can often be quite challenging. It's just that, well, I felt a coupla things were missing here.

First, I feel it woulda been better live cuz of what a live audience experiences at a musical. Seeing the amazing sets, feeling free to sing along with the performers, and actually seeing them instead of a screen makes it all the more personal. After all, there is some pretty personal subject matter to take in here. In a movie theatre, you just don't get the same experience that you would live. The movie was still moving where it needed to be though, just had this feeling that live would be....more.
Second, I had a hard time empathizing with some of these bohemians. It wasn't because some were HIV+, gay, or strung-out. It's the ones who complained about how to make a living without "selling out" artistically. I've heard and seen this in real life and on screen too too much. I mean when you can't afford to eat or put clothes on your back then ya go get a job. Call it what you will, a job is a job. How else are ya gonna survive? It's not romantic to hold firm to some artistic dream and yet not make ends meet. It's stupid.

Beyond alla that it was great to see the talented cast of the original 1996 Broadway run was kept intact except for newcomers Dawson (playing Mimi) and Thoms (playing Joanne). Who both do stellar jobs with their characters. Dawson does a fantastic job on the rocker "Out Tonight" and her duet with Pascal "I Should Tell You" was really heartfelt. Thoms has a great energy and voice as seen in the song "Take me or Leave Me." Both of these women bring great turns on these characters that only add to the original performers.

The movie was great fun with well written music and an often times compelling story.
If you like musicals, try to check this out in the movie theatre. Columbus does a great job and weaving all the songs & storyline together. there is some graphic material as far as drug use and some scantily clad-ness, but overall it's not too much to bear. If you're not into musicals, maybe this is a movie you'll RENT.

Rent (2005) Rosario Rent (2005) Menzel

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