Also known as A Guy Steals a Loaf of Bread and Shit Goes Down
Back at the Oscars in 2009 when Hugh Jackman was hosting, there was a moment when he declared that the musical had returned, being that there were so many musicals coming out at the time. Here's the problem, they all sucked. For all the musicals that were coming out one after another, few were actually memorable, even if at all good. With that said, let's talk about Les Miserables, which has had a ton of hype behind it for the past year. Let's do a run down: You have one of the most beloved stage musicals of all time with a cast that includes Hugh Jackman, one of the most famous broadway and film stars there is, Anne Hathaway, who we discovered, almost on accident that she could sing. You've got Russell Crowe playing Javert, who a lot of people didn't even know could sing, and Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter playing the comic relief characters. And on top of that, you have an Oscar winning director at the helm.
On top of that, this was also one of the first movies to have all of there actors sing the vocals live as opposed to recorded then lip synched, a very risky move that would either make or break the movie. So, did it live up to the hype?
I'd say that it did. Keep in mind, I'm not much into musical theater, so I can't really critique it as a musical, but as a movie, I thought it was really well done. The cast all did their parts beautifully, especially Sacha Baron Cohen who I think was the best casting choice when it came to him singing "Master of the House". It's just so over-the-top and weird that you'd have to be a fool to not cast him as the part. The rest of the cast was just as good, I would be surprised if one or not both Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway received Oscar nominations. And Russell Crowe, even though he seemed a bit uncomfortable singing at first, really grows into the part of Javert and by the time he sang his solo "Stars", I thought he sounded really good. Keep in mind, he's an actor first, and a singer second. I would say his only problem was that he didn't benefit from singing live. The rest of the cast did a good job, though I feel like Eddie Redmayne may have been trying too hard at some parts. I guess my only complaint about the movie is that I didn't realize that 99% of it was all sung which again, not a bad thing, seeing as how the music is good and the cast does a good job singing it. As for singing live, even though Russell Crowe struggled at the beginning, I think it really helped the movie because since, with the exception of Hugh Jackman, the cast has more experience acting then singing, it allowed them to focus on their acting while also focusing on their singing at the same time rather than recording it a few months in advance and already having to make their acting choices a few months before they are even on camera. And the emotions of some of the actors, particularly Anne Hathaway felt really genuine and not forced or over exaggerated.
Now keep in mind, this is a long ass movie, clocking in at about 3 hours. But again, I never minded really long movies, so I don't care. Though I will say my ass began to feel a little numb by the time they sang "One Day More", but that's not important.
Final Grade: A