TagiUnagi (tagiunagi) wrote in theatredorks,

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The Problems with the Sweeney Movie

I know I've seen the movie 3 weeks later than everyone else, but I thought I'd start out the year on a positive note....

1. Tim Burton/whoever the musical director is turned it into a pop score and Sweeney is anything BUT a pop score. Between Johnny Depp's whiny, lazy singing and Helena Bonham Carter's shrill vocals (see #2), they turned a score that requires a good amount of enunciation and breath control into a score where "Poor Thing," "My Friends," and  "Wait" could be on the Top 40.

2. Helena Bonham Carter's vocals: shrill, waifish, and not worth calling "singing." It makes me sad that that is far as she got with the music director. Once again, she needed to breathe! "Worst Pies in London" was truly heinous.

3. Sweeney is intended to be a dark comedy, yet the movie was devoid  of all humor. Case in point: "A Little Priest." A  cow and a horse could have made this number more lively.  The number is the type of foreplay that these characters engage in, and to make it into a literal pointing match ("Oh, look! There's a priest.") wastes the comic lyrics of both that number and of the show in general.

4. Johnny and Helena did not keep the rhymes and phrasing in tact. In "Priest" there is a lyric that reads, "I'll come again when you have judge on the menu." "When you" rhymes with "menu," right? Well, dear old Johnny placed emphasis on "again" to make it sound like "a-GAIN" and missed the aforementioned rhyme. Isn't rhyming and phrasing what Sondheim is all about? Yes.

5. Making Toby into a sadistic killer was a poor choice. It's certainly a choice to make, but it just makes every one evil in the end. I think the original choice to make Toby go insane from seeing all this madness is a much better choice. Now, there is no sympathy for Toby because he's just as bad as everyone else.

On the other hand, I thought "By the Sea" was directorially brilliant. Visually stunning with a few comic bits by Helena and nice sulleness by Johnny. It was the only real part of the movie that was really reinvented from the stage. The rest of the movie was just a bunch of obvious choices transferred onto film. Chicago and Hairspray were successful because they added new layers to the musical material and unfortunately, Sweeney only did this once in the refreshing "By the Sea" number.

Happy New Year!
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