So, the Les Miserables film is coming out on Christmas day. Yeah, you have families and all, but the star-studded cast might just be enough to pull some of us out of the jolly holiday and get to the movie theater.
First there’s Hugh Jackman, AKA Wolverine in the X-Men movies. He also starred in a bunch of other things, including the actual Wolverine film (which we won’t talk about), but all that really matters is he’s delightfully Australian and nice to look at. There’s also Russell Crowe, Sacha Baron Cohen, and then three ladies it’s impossible not to love: Anne Hathaway (she’s Catwoman AND the Princess of Genovia), Amanda Seyfried (who was in the best film of all time, Mean Girls), and Helena Bonham Carter (she was in Fight Club, y’all!).
Basically: this film will probably be great, just for the casting choices alone. And if it’s not, well, it wouldn’t be the first theater-turned-Hollywood film to be awful. I’m looking at you, Raise Your Voice.
And this is coming from someone who actually likes Hilary Duff.
But let’s not talk about the bad – how about some really great transitions from theater to the silver screen?
Yes, Helena Bonham Carter is in this movie, too, which is probably partly why I love it so much. But it also has Johnny Depp and Alan Rickman. Some people think the Helena Bonham Carter/Tim Burton/Johnny Depp thing is overkill, but I disagree. I loved this film because it’s broody, dark, and has an amazingly catchy soundtrack. It’s kind of funny, too. Bonus: So many of its stars were also in Harry Potter, which is cool for geeks like me.
To be fair, I’ve never actually seen Casablanca, but it’s so classic I had to give it a nod. It starred Hollywood legends Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman, it was in black and white, and it’s, like, vintage, which all the hipsters say makes it automatically amazing. Whatever the case, hats off to Casablanca for making the swap from stage to movie screen because, without it, we would never get to say "Here’s looking at you, kid" or "I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship" or "We’ll always have Paris."
Beyonce. That is all. (Okay, fine, it won a bunch of awards, the title track was super popular, and it had an amazing cast made almost entirely of people of color, which basically never happens. How can we not be wooed by Beyonce, Jennifer Hudson, Eddie Murphy, Jamie Foxx and Danny Glover? Not to mention, this film cemented Jennifer Hudson’s career from American Idol cast-off to actual Hollywood celebrity. Beyonce, though…)
I have yet to meet someone who doesn't at least know of Grease. The film itself is classic, but it also follows a pretty universal plot. Obstacles stand between boy and girl who are both from different sides of the track. They struggle for the entire movie to make it work, weighed down by the opinions of everyone else. In the end, they decide to forget everyone else, break into a musical number, and then jet away from the school’s massive carnival in a flying car. Pretty standard. Also, you totally know the lyrics to most of these songs, even if you don’t want to admit it.
The Sound of Music
I first saw this movie at school in my middle school music class and we watched it for a week straight, in small parts. I tried to pretend I wasn't interested because liking things was uncool or something. But secretly, I was enjoying the movie so much that I could have run across the hills and sang about it a la Julie Andrews. The Sound of Music really has become part of American pop culture — it’s been parodied, reproduced, re-released. The theater show won a Tony for Best Musical, and the movie actually won five Academy Awards. And yet, my grandma still has not seen it.
Honorable mentions: Rent, Hairspray (in which John Travolta plays a lady), Steel Magnolias (um, hello, Dolly Parton), Funny Girl, Chicago.
What are your top theater-to-Hollywood picks?