The reports I got on "Les Miserables" before actually being dragged to see it tonight ran the length of human experience. One woman told me it was "the best movie I've ever seen." One said Anne Hathaway's version of "I Dream a Dream" was "worth the price of admission." A friend, whose wife made him go, told me it was "godawful."
I tend to agree with the latter assessment. Take the terrible singing out of Lay Miz and you have a start on a good movie. Take all the music out--with this cast--and you have a winner. But nobody did that.
What we got instead was superhero Hugh Jackman, who looks like Deputy Dawg in Lay Miz, signing so badly that people were laughing out loud (I was leading that); Russell Crowe proving that as a singer he's a great actor; Amanda Sayfreid signing like Minnie Mouse; and Anne Hathaway's version of That Song being worth the price of admission, depending on what you paid. Leah paid for my ticket.
(Let me mention that Leah was a music major in college and she talked about Jackman and Crowe being so atonal that "it sounded like an auction.")
The movie is claustrophobic beyond any reason. That Song Anne Hathaway sings is performed with the camera in so close you can count her nose hairs. It's emotional and she sings well, but we're in her space so far that it's uncomfortable for her and for us. Far too many scenes are played far too close.
There was an opportunity here to do a good film, one with a great Victor Hugo story, a few nice songs and some great period sets. But the signing got in the way. Dialogue was sung. Most often badly and inappropriately. The much publicized gimmick of of piping in piano background as the actors sang their parts wasn't all that hot, given the quality of the singing. Maybe the piano was offkey.
If there is a saving grace for Lay Miz, it is the performances of Helena Bonham Carter and Sasha Baron Cohen as the Thenardiers, a couple of crooks who were perfectly delightful in several scenes that simply didn't fit this movie.
One thing to watch for: Jeffrey Rush is in this turkey. Find him and report back to me.