Rent
This is so much better than using water balloons!

Theatrical Release Date: 11/23/2005
Director: Chris Columbus
Cast: Anthony Rapp, Adam Pascal, Jesse L. Martin, Wilson Jermaine Heredia, Idina Menzel, Taye Diggs, Rosario Dawson, Tracie Thoms

As many of the people who read my rantings on this site know, I am a Rent-head. I love the musical and have seen it 14 times on stage. From Broadway to Indiana to Chicago to L.A. to La Jolla and San Diego; I’ve both pre-bought tickets and camped out for the bench seats that are placed at the front of each theatre (even in Chicago in December no less). My commitment goes that far. As such, I’ve gotten a good feel for how the characters work with new cast members – for what I like to see each new actor bring to the role(s).

That being said, I was excited that the film would reunite six of the original eight Broadway cast members. Anthony Rapp, Adam Pascal, Jesse L. Martin, Wilson Jermaine Heredia, Idina Menzel and Taye Diggs all started the Rent phenomenon, written by Jonathan Larson who himself died just a day before the first preview of the stage show in New York from complications involving his heart.

The two replacements to the cast were Rosario Dawson and Tracie Thoms who took over due to the original actresses’ ages, now that the film was going to be done 10 years after the original stage production.

All of the actors do a great job, and since I am such a big fan of the show, I ended up liking the film version. That is to say, in remembering all that I love in the musical and appreciating some of the nuances the film was able to provide, I can look back somewhat favorably on this endeavor.

That being said, “Rent” is not a good film. I’m even saying that with a cameo by Sarah Silverman (who wasn’t right for the role anyway).

Director Chris Columbus had the arduous task of translating a stage show into a motion picture, trading imaginative set design for real life locations. I am of the opinion that it doesn’t work for “Rent”.

Obviously, to allow for a realistic running time, some songs were cut and others reworked slightly to make the film work better. I can live with that and understand why it had to be done. Still, there are some scenes which had me absolutely cringing.

For example, at one point a major character is in New Mexico and is singing a duet with a character still in New York (the song “What You Own”). The scenes in New Mexico and the look of the character had me laughing from the idea that it looked like a Bon Jovi video. I was waiting for a two-necked guitar solo from Richie Sambora.

Also, there was an added scene of a commitment ceremony which was completely unnecessary and useless. I get why you need to remove some things, but adding this one in made no sense.

Before I render judgment, let me say that Rosario Dawson has a great voice, and although she couldn’t hit the high notes like most actresses who play that role in the show, her dance/striptease is amazing … just thinking of it brings a smile to my face … Sorry, lost track of time.

I have so much of myself invested in the musical that it’s hard to really sit and critique this film. I am glad to have a version I can buy in a few months that will at least sound pretty good … but I may not keep my eyes on the screen too much when re-watching this … though I will make sure to watch Rosario’s dancing over and over again.

Ok, so while I would gladly give the stage show a 5 out of 5, the movie version only gets a 2. If you don’t know or don’t like the musical, do not see this. The movie is bad and if I didn’t know the music already, I’d probably have been laughing or cowering the majority of the movie.

If you are a fan, you’ve probably already seen it or plan to and I understand. But all this served to do was make me wait for the next touring cast to come by so I can really enjoy everything that is “Rent”.