Traitor to my generation

I watched Rent a few weeks ago and have been meaning to say a few words about it.

My reaction? Meh.

Maybe if I'd seen it on the stage when it first came out I would have felt differently--I dunno. It came out when I was in high school and everyone made such a fuss over it. I'm sure part of the appeal was that it dealt with issues (like HIV and homosexuality) that hadn't really been addressed in contemporary musicals.

But here are my gripes:

I didn't love the music. Only a few of the tunes (like Seasons of Love, Tango Maureen, Out Tonight) actually stayed in my head after the movie was over. Also, I just like Tango Maureen. I like tangos. I like how they executed it where suddenly everyone's dressed all swank and tangoing in a ballroom. And Idina Menzel is my favorite anyway.

I don't love Adam Pascal's voice. And his long hair was lame. He looked better in the flashbacks where he was short-haired punky androgynous boy.

Maybe I just can't get into the thing because I've never been an HIV-infected young unemployed person in New York. Except I've been able to identify with other characters that were completely, completely different from me. I seriously felt like I'd become a cane-wielding old woman on a porch, shrieking, "Get a job, you punks!" Because really, they don't pay rent! And they think they shouldn't have to even though they're living in this huge loft that people would pay millions for. And we're supposed to admire them for their stance.

When Roger doesn't want to start a relationship with Mimi, his friends all act like he's the biggest jerk ever. But I'd think that if his last serious relationship was with an HIV-positive drug addict who died, it would actually make sense for him to avoid starting another one of those, especially with a girl who seems so completely reckless and oblivious about how to take care of herself. So yeah, I thought that was actually kind of right-thinking of him. Also? Shut up, Rosario Dawson. And put some clothes on.

Taye Diggs is the character you're not supposed to like--the one who sold out to The Man. Of course, I liked him. (If they were going for unlikeable then they should not have chosen Taye Diggs. I'm just sayin'. That man would have charisma if he were dead.) As I watched I kept thinking, "What! He's got a 5-year plan, people! He's the only one of you who is actually doing something! Also? He's just hot."

I think a big mistake was that they cast most of the original Broadway actors. Sure, they're great, but they're also in their mid-to-upper 30s now. It's harder to buy them as young struggling idealist kids who think they'll live forever and Only Need Their Dreams. Instead I wanted to yell, "Dude, you're 40! Don't you think it's time to grow up?"


Jenny said... [reply]

I love Taye Diggs.

lilcis said... [reply]

Taye Diggs and Idina Menzel are married. DID YOU KNOW THAT?

Funny story . . . a few years ago when my sister and her kids were visiting (from Oklahoma) I took my nieces out for ice cream. While I was waiting for them to finish I flipped through an US Weekly magazine. I came across a photo of Taye and Idina walking on the beach. My six year old niece saw the photo and made a comment along the lines of "that black man and white woman are holding hands." I just looked and her for a sec, and then said "well yeah, they're married." I don't think she really said anything after that, but when I saw my sister again I kind of laid into her. Like, "HOLY COW, WOMAN! WOULD YOU GET YOUR KIDS OUT OF OKLAHOMA BEFORE THEY'RE COMPLETELY CORRUPTED BY RACIST HICKS!?!"

They're back in California now.

Liz Johnson said... [reply]

I absolutely love Rent. I have been obsessed since it came out. That is my bias.

That said, Roger's hair needed to go. I preferred the short stuff myself.

The plot has always been wanting a little bit. I feel like it wasn't ever finished completely, but nobody would alter it, since the creator died mid-tweaking, and they wanted it to be authentic.

Oh well. I still loooooooooooove it.

kristen said... [reply]

I had some students last year rave about it. But when they described the plot and characters I gave them a look of disgust and a "no thanks". This just solidifies that decision. Thanks for saving me a few bucks and a few hours of my time (not that I was planning to rent it; but just in case).

Perhaps the reason my students love it is because they can relate to it (the whole 'not paying rent and being a drain on society' thing). That's great for them to look up to, isn't it?

Edgy said... [reply]

I saw Taya play Fiyero across from Idina in Wicked. I had not idea that they were married. In fact, their chemistry was absolutely abysmal. On stage, anyway. I have no idea what their chemistry is like otherwise.

I like Rent. It's far better on stage. Much more moving. When I have more time, perhaps I'll rebut your complaints.

Michael said... [reply]

I have mixed feelings about Rent, but I have to agree whole-heartedly about the original actors being too old. It really did get in the way of buying the story or empathizing with the characters.

Oh, and as for lilcis' comment, where in the heck in Oklahoma did your sister live? I was born in California but have lived 12 of my 28 years here in Oklahoma and am shocked that your niece would have that attitude at six years old. Sure- there are small towns here that are backwoods and racist but outside of those I'd be really surprised by that attitude. I know as many Californians with racist attitudes as Oklahomans and interracial dating isn't a rare thing at all here.

lilcis said... [reply]

Sorry, I shouldn't have bagged on Oklahoma so hard. It may have just been that they lived in a predominately white area, so her comment wasn't so much racist as it was just noticing something different. They lived in Broken Arrow, just outside of Tulsa.

.::still blinking::. said... [reply]

I totally agree. I could not relate to any of the people. All about drugs, HIV and being irresponsible. And then paying the consequence and being pissed there were consequences.

Maybe the thing that gets people really moved is that the guy who wrote it died right before it debuted. He never saw fruition of his work, because of HIV.

Also, maybe this is coming from my Utah bubble and HIV is far more prevalent than I know.

Nemesis said... [reply]

Uh oh, still blinking. I'd better stop you before an enraged fan does. The creator didn't die of HIV. He died of a heart aneurysm. I don't believe he was ever HIV positive but had a lot of friends who were (likely one of the reasons he chose to address it in his musical).

Nemesis said... [reply]

It would definitely be more poignant, though, if he had died of AIDS. Although I guess a heart aneurysm would be a quicker. Either way, sad.

Jimmy said... [reply]

Oh I'm so glad I found someone else who didn't go off raving about how wonderful "Rent" was. I was bored by it. I think the key element to a good movie is getting you to care about the characters and their relationships, or else the obstacles they face just don't matter.
I truthfully found most of the characters to be annoying, so the flick lost me.
Oh and...don't be tempted to see the live show if it should come your way. I walked out on that one.

.::still blinking::. said... [reply]

Thanks for clarifying.

I hate being a dork, but sometimes I am so good at it.

LBecks said... [reply]

Heyy, lilcis, your nieces are from Broken Arrow? That's where Kristen Chenoweth (Idina's "Wicked" co-star) is from haha.

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