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The movie Les Miserables just won the Golden Globe for best musical or comedy. If you haven't seen this movie, you might be tempted because of its award-winning ways. As a public service, I offer you my review of Les Miserables.

In a pivotal scene in Les Miserables, one of the main characters finds himself in a sewer, up to his nostrils in human waste, with a bullet in his torso, while being pursued by the authorities who have just killed all of his friends. This was my favorite scene in Les Miserables because I could relate to it. Watching that fucking movie feels exactly like being up to your nostrils in human waste, with a bullet in your torso, after the government has killed all of your friends. The main difference is that the movie is longer. Much, much longer.

I usually fall asleep during movies. If you put me in a darkened room for more than thirty minutes, it doesn't matter how good the entertainment is; I'll be off to dreamland before the opening credits are done. I tried hard to sleep through Les Miserables but I was continuously thwarted by something they call "singing." This movie was full of singing. And by singing, I mean the sad wailing of filthy, miserable people. If you would like to hear the entire soundtrack of Les Miserables without paying for a ticket, try punching your cat. But whatever you do, don't let your cat watch Les Miserables because that would be cruel. I don't care if your cat shredded your mattress and ate your wedding ring. The punishment would not be proportional to the crime.

Ann Hathaway played the part of a whining, mud-caked, Halloween skeleton who blamed the system for her problems. Typical liberal. Hugh Jackman played Wolverine, I think. I didn't catch a lot of the details because it's the sort of movie that makes your mind try to crawl out of your ear hole in search of anything that isn't the movie.

Les Miserables is such an unpleasant experience that it would make a great practical joke on people you don't like. If you have a coworker that you hate, suggest that he or she should see Les Miserables because it is so awesome. You might need to practice in front of a mirror before you can say it with a straight face. Mention that the movie won several Golden Globes.  And be sure to say the movie trailers don't capture the magic of the film. Remember to call it a "film," not a movie, because it sounds more substantial that way. I suspect that 80% of Les Miserables audiences are the victims of this sort of prank. I'm thinking the Golden Globes might be in on the joke too.

If you want to see the best movie of the past year, check out This is 40. Judd Apatow knows how to make a frickin' movie, and this is his best work to date. I laughed so hard at a scene involving a hand mirror that I thought I would need medical attention. Comedies don't usually win the big awards, but this one is a true masterpiece. The writing, directing, and comedic acting are superb.

If you try the Les Miserables practical joke on a friend, let me know how it goes.

 
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Jan 22, 2013
There was a time when actors shined,
When their voices were aloft,
And their singing, inviting.
There was a time when the audience wasn’t deaf (or blind),
And the screen had songs
And the way the songs sung, exciting.
There was a time,
Then it all went wrong.

I’ve seen the scene that Anne won by,
Where she tried
But life was missing.
I screamed that Crowe would just die;
I dreamed that Hugh could be forgiven.
Then I was bummed, for twenty I paid;
My dough and time they stole and I wasted.
There’s no refund I’m afraid,
For songs ill-sung by names profitably pasted.

“But the actors sing it live!”
The media voices yelled with thunder,
As publicists play their part,
As they turn their screams to shame.

DVD’s coming this summer for fans to buy,
To fill their days with anxious wonder:
“Is this really better than live?”
But his cash was gone when autumn came.

And still I dream plays on screen are good to see,
That stage and film can mesh together.
But there are dreams that cannot be,
Good actors don’t mean the singing’s better.

And singing is a musical’s reason to be,
So different from that hell that I was watching.
No different now from what it seemed,
This flick has killed me with the scenes I’d seen.
 
 
Jan 21, 2013
I liked the Liam Neeson verson of Les Miserables so much I wont see this version.

Hearing its a musical is a divide by infinity error. worthless. just worthless.
 
 
Jan 16, 2013
Wow ... who knew that t,h.o,r.n,y was a bad word :-)
 
 
Jan 16, 2013
It's easier to be more like Valjean if you are (a) rich, and (b) preternaturally strong ((c) male - helps, in 1830's France). But I agree that the story is overall an uplifting one, illustrating not just poverty and social dysfunction, but how a person can transcend these, change their nature, and choose a nobler path.

Scott, you should read the book. It's long, in parts dense, prone to many sidetracks, but tackles many !$%*!$ social questions (as does this blog), and is often very funny. E.G., the kind Bishop of Digne, who soon after moving into his palatial quarters, goes to the small, overcrowded hospital, and tells the administrator, "They seem to have put us in the wrong houses!" and swaps with him. He gets a very generous stipend from the Church, and makes out a detailed budget which gives most of it to the poor; when the housekeeper complains that she doesn't have enough money to feed him properly, and that he also has a transportation allowance coming to him, he agrees with enthusiasm -- and immediately budgets the additional funds to the poor!

Helm
 
 
+7 Rank Up Rank Down
Jan 16, 2013
It's clear to me that your review is really less about the movie than the genre. And since it's from the world's most popular play, I'd say your opinion is not the norm.

But I'm surprised you found it so depressing. Yes, parts of it can be a tough slog, but the overarching theme is very positive: a convict is redeemed and dedicates his life doing good in face of any adversity. He saves a young girl and adopts her, then saves the life of the heroic young man she's fallen in love with, and they eventually marry and presumably live happily ever after.

It made me think "when things get tough, I should be more like Valjean." What an inspiration!

[I like the genre. Wicked was great. So was Billy Elliot, Phantom, etc. -- Scott]
 
 
Jan 16, 2013
After reading your post and considering your suggestion to see This is 40, I glad to know you consider me your friend worthy of a prank.
 
 
+41 Rank Up Rank Down
Jan 16, 2013
Helpful tip #1: Don't go to musicals if you hate musicals.

Helpful tip #2: Don't say a musical is a terrible movie just because it is a musical.

Helpful tip #3: Don't rely on an engineer for movie reviews.
 
 
+23 Rank Up Rank Down
Jan 16, 2013
Perhaps you were unsettled by the disconnect between the cinematography of the film and its intended emotional impact. Just saw an interesting article/rant about this (hope you don't mind reading all caps):

http://badassdigest.com/2013/01/09/film-crit-hulk-smash-hulk-vs.-tom-hooper-and-art-of-cinematic-affectation/
 
 
+1 Rank Up Rank Down
Jan 16, 2013
" Remember to call it a "film," not a movie, because it sounds more substantial that way."

You meant "sophisticated," not "substantial."
 
 
Jan 16, 2013
This is the most epic movie review I've ever seen. It puts it all on the same playing field as Vogon poetry.

It may have saved me the expense and horror of seeing it - so, thank you for that. :)
 
 
Jan 15, 2013
Big Christmas present to the family was to go to Broadway and see a couple of shows. First time for my son who loves plays. So, first night, too late to get tix, so we all go to Le Miz for the 10:30 show. Was at least 137 degrees in thearter.

I agree completely with your review. After about 40 minutes, I did some "Plot Calculations" I figured there had to be at least an hour left (turned out to be 2). I told my kids Le Get Me the Hell Outta Here.
 
 
+20 Rank Up Rank Down
Jan 15, 2013
I assume the bit about 'This is 40' is a practical joke on your part.
 
 
Jan 15, 2013
Dingbat, good luck with your slog! I started reading Les Miserables a month ago; am now on page 840 of 1463. It's sometimes heavy going, but always rewarding.

I wonder sometimes whether VH was being paid by the word -- he'll go off on a 58 page tangent on, say, the Battle of Waterloo; you'll be thinking, gosh, this is interesting, but what in blazes does it have to do with anything in the novel. You get to the end of that section, read the last two sentences, and scream "OMG! ARE YOU KIDDING ME????" Suddenly the relevance strikes you.

Also 40-odd pages on convents.

Enjoying this much more than Hunchback, which I put down after one chapter.

Looking forward to finishing this; it will be the longest novel I've ever read. Kudos to my daughter, though, who also intends to read the whole thing - in French!

Helm
 
 
Jan 15, 2013
As Jesus said to the ex-leper, "There's no pleasing some people."

Helm
 
 
+8 Rank Up Rank Down
Jan 15, 2013
Hilarious review Scott. I hate musicals in general. Started when my parent's took me to see Sound of Music. I must've been like 8 years old and would've rather gargled with all the nuts and bolts from my !$%*!$% set than sit through that whole thing. I always figured it's a guy thing. The only exception might be 'Chicago' which I caught on cable and was actually surprised I sat through the whole thing and didn't hate it. So either Chicago was am amazing anomaly or they guy on TV is right and I've lost over half my testosterone and need his suppliments to resore my manhood.
 
 
Jan 15, 2013
Twice, my wife tried to pull this joke on me. I was smart enough to avoid it.
Women love it. The first time she cried so much she looked like Sly Stalone in the first Rocky. I kept saying "Cut me, Mick. Cut me."
I learned her taste in movies was, uh, not in line with mine when she insisted on taking me to Meryl Streep movies. I finally told her I wouldn't go to another Meryl Steep movie unless either she or Meryl Streep was undressed the whole time. Then I took it back. I said seeing Meryl Steep naked that long might have lasting psychological impact.
 
 
-1 Rank Up Rank Down
Jan 15, 2013
nasch:
Ok, if the point of a movie is to highlight some important issue then yes, inducing sadness, rage or something might be useful. "The constant gardener" would be an example.

On the other hand, tron's death in "Tron: Legacy" was indeed moving. Fortunately it didn't dominate the whole movie.

Personally I've got nothing against crying during an intense moment, like when looking at a stunning landscape (like that one, last time I was in scotland: http://imgdrop.net/images/viu1358267026w.jpg), but it's certainly not sadness I feel at that point, more like exceedingly privileged.
 
 
+1 Rank Up Rank Down
Jan 15, 2013
nasch:
I don't really care about the means (artificially induced empathy with a fantasy figure or whatnot), I question the usefulness of the result (sadness).
 
 
+1 Rank Up Rank Down
Jan 15, 2013
EMU, I think you misunderstood me. I was saying that a story that makes the viewer/reader feel such powerful empathy for the characters as to cry over it is not a failure, as the other commenter indicated.
 
 
+2 Rank Up Rank Down
Jan 15, 2013
nasch:
I think you're right. What's the point of paying for being made sad and crying?
If she wants that, she can always get a husband who drinks and then beats her up regularly.
 
 
 
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