The Fantasticks Movie Review

After 40 continuous years of off-Broadway performances, the musical sensation of Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt comes inexplicably to the big screen. That's right, folks. All the dancing, singing, and mindbogglingly stupid antics of off-Broadway's longest-running embarrassment can now be experienced at a cinema near you.

Set deep in rural America, this is the story of two neighboring fathers who fake a feud in order to trick their children into courtship. Of course, the young man and woman (played by Joe McIntyre and Jean Louisa Kelly, respectively) are easily duped and everything is going as planned. That is, until the circus comes to town. And that's when the moronic singing starts.

Perhaps the most baffling thing about this incomprehensible production is that it languished for about five years on MGM shelves, nearly (but not nearly enough) not making it to the screen, until Francis Ford Coppola offered to have a look at it at much risk to his own sanity. Sadly, even FFC's magical touch could not spare us the horror The Fantasticks has in store. The unique combination of cheesy choreography, inept dialog, and insanely ridiculous music, so brilliantly captured under Michael Ritchie's direction, is surely enough to have audiences howling all the way to their cars within the first twenty minutes.

This is the sort of film our grandmothers might have loved. Well, probably not my grandmother but maybe yours, if she was stupid. One credit I can pay this flick is that, against all probability, its makers managed to cram more moments of ungodly torture into an 86-minute musical than I could ever have thought possible.

The saddest thing about The Fantasticks is the inclusion in its cast of Cabaret's memorable emcee, Joel Grey. A longtime fan of Grey's performances, I will be forever scarred by this experience. To be sure, Jean Louisa Kelly and Joe McIntyre will live long enough to regret their roles in this picture. Teller (of Penn & Teller), on the other hand, might very well consider this the crowning achievement of a career spent frolicking silently about in the shadow of a lowbrow windbag.

The Fantasticks might well serve as a worthwhile sacrifice in American filmmaking, demonstrating for all time the God-awful stupidity of silver screen musicals. Use it as you would a roadside accident; gawk thoroughly as you cruise slowly by, praying for all your life is worth that this sort of atrocity never happens to anyone, ever again.

Fantasucks.

Comments

The Fantasticks Rating

" Unbearable "

Rating: PG, 1995

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