This Walt Disney combination of live and animated action has to be one of the most overproduced productions ever but no matter how thousands of napkins, dishes and gowns swirl around on the screen the basic story that makes “Beauty and the Beast” a classic is still there.
Whether speaking through an animated object or being seen on screen, even if very briefly, it is always a joy to hear/see Ian McKellen, Stanley Tucci, Ewan McGregor, Audra McDonald, Emma Thompson and the glorious Gugu MBatha-Raw along with Nathan Mack as Chip the teacup. (Be sure to stay for ending credits.)
Emma Watson fills the shoes of Belle being the equal of any Disney’s princesses and has the voice to match the image while Dan Stevens as the Beast is hidden behind fur and horns most of the movie and has a number near the end that he belts out with assurance. In addition it has Kevin Kline, always welcome in any movie, as Belle’s father given more background than previous versions but not a major song to sing. Luke Evans is as narcissistic as any Gaston can be while Josh Gad, as his sidekick, is a delight in the movie.
The original songs by Alan Menken and Howard Ashman from the 1991 animated film are in the new plus 4 new songs by Menken and Tim Rice. The screenplay by Stephen Chbosky and Evan Spilotopoulos has added a lot of background giving the new film a running time of 2 hours and 9 minutes while the original animated 1991 film was 1 hour and 24 minutes.
Let’s talk about the ‘scandal, associated with this film which would take more time to explain then what doesn’t take place on the screen. Blink your eyes and you will miss it plus the exact same thing and more has been seen at least 20 times before and how many times have you seen men kiss, by accident in movies, which doesn’t happen here! “Much ado about nothing.”
I have seen the animated film twice and the Broadway stage show three times, still as elaborate as this production is I will always fall for the love story and the ‘tale as old as time’.
“The Last Word” is a movie for people who love/like Shirley MacLaine and I am one who does. It is also a movie for people who enjoyed her role as Ouiser in “Steel Magnolias” in 1989 because as Harriet in this movie she is even more of a curmudgeon along with being a control freak who, in her 81 years, has ‘lost’ her daughter, (Anne Heche) husband (Philip Baker Hall) and whatever friends she might have had.
The screenplay by Stuart Ross Fink is how Harriet hires the obituary writer of the local newspaper, Anne (Amanda Seyfried), to write her obituary before she dies. She gives Anne a list of 100 names for her to go and see but comes back to Harriet to tell her that not a single one had anything nice to say about her. Harriet has not gained friends or respect by teaching her gardener how to garden, her housekeeper how to cook, her hairdresser to step aside so that she can do her own hair the way she wants it and she even ignores her gynecologist how to examine her.
From this point on there is nothing more to do except lean back and watch MacLaine, who has made over 65 movies starting with her first Hitchcock’s “The Trouble With Harry” in 1955, taking the movie exactly where you know it will go.
Along the way we meet a girl from the projects, Brenda, (Ann’Jewel Lee) who Harriet is going to mentor, Robin (Thomas Sadoski) who Harriet will get to hire her as a DJ on his radio station, who she will try to fix up with Anne—no, that is not a spoiler as you know what will happen there.
The director, Mark Pellington, lets Shirley MacLaine take Harriet wherever she has to go and it is to the audience’s delight that she can take a line, give a look, that will make you laugh or feel her pain or show why this actress at 81 is a fascinating study on how to be a movie actress and star. Oh yes, even in this spotlight you see the woman as she is, the lines, the spots, the ‘rippling’ neck, an old woman who doesn’t hide a day of her 81 years. (I can say that because we are the same age.)
“The Last Word” is 108 minutes, about 8 minutes too long, certainly isn’t a must see but it is a pleasure to watch.
The Last Word movie trailer
Weather wise March 21, 2017, was a perfect day with sun, clear sky, around 80 degrees and as evening came with the sky still clear the stars and moon were visible with the temperatures in the mid to lower 70s.
We had pre-theatre dinner at one of my favorite restaurants, the Quarterdeck, and I ordered Seafood pasta while Allen had Chicken Franchise and we ended up with a double scoop of ice cream. It was either that or one of the big chocolate chip cookies at the theatre but we were behaving ourselves and only had the ice cream!
We arrived at the theatre to be greeted by a group of roving minstrel players from a nearby Renaissance Fair in Delray beach which was a nice added touch.
Then came “Something Rotten” which proved that it was everything but that with funny lines, good music, excellent actors, an ensemble that couldn’t have been any better and a production that just made you smile and leaving the theatre feeling great.
What more could a person ask of an evening?
Take a look!
Walk, run, drive, call a cab, uber, lyfte, go on the Internet (BrowardCenter.org) or call (954-462-0222) and get tickets for “Something Rotten” playing at the Broward Center for Performing Arts before it is sold out, if it isn’t already! You have until April 2 to see it here and if you don’t live in South Florida find out when it is coming to your city and get those tickets.
After seeing “Something Rotten” for the first time last night it has immediately been placed in my top 5 list of musical COMEDIES. From the opening musical number, “Welcome to the Renaissance” the show is a laugh out loud, tuneful show with a talented cast that shouts that’s why the Bottom brothers were sent to America to bring the world the Broadway Musical theatre.
You don’t know who Nick (Rob McClure) and Nigel Bottom (Josh Grisetti) are? It is the 1590s in England and the brothers are tired of Shakespeare (Adam Pascal), the leather clad, bleached blonde, rock star of the theatre, having all the hits while they have yet to make their mark. Nick goes to see a soothsayer, Nostradamus (Blake Hammond), who tells him that the next big thing in theatre will be a musical, where actors sing instead of talk and dance instead of just walk around the stage. This leads to a show stopping song and dance number called “A Musical” that is one of the most entertaining numbers in a musical that I have seen in years. From this point on it is chaos with double entendres, misunderstandings, and a musical within the musical called “Omelette” plus low humor, sly humor and fun.
Along the way there is Nick’s wife Bea (Maggie Lakis), who has to be the first ‘feminist’, getting dressed in drag to prove a woman can do any job a man does and Portia (Autumn Hurlbert) the daughter of Brother Jeremiah (Scott Cote) a righteous confused man, becomes Nigel’s love interest which isn’t easy because both are innocents in a world that that they aren’t part of.
There isn’t a false note by any member of the cast and the ensemble adds a lot of ‘razzle dazzle’ to the show just as the choreography and direction by Casey Nicholaw does.
The music and lyrics are by Wayne Kirkpatrick and Karey Kirkpatrick ranging from the aforementioned “A Musical” and “Make an Omelette” both being Broadway gold to musical lovers with countless references to every, or most every, show ever presented on the Broadway stage. Just as you don’t have to know the references to Shakespeare you don’t have to have seen all the Broadway musicals but you will recognize quite a lot of both. The Kirkpatrick’s go from rock to ballad to pop and certainly funny, toe tapping tunes. Karey Kirkpatrick and John O’Farrell wrote the book, flawlessly using modern language, jargon and references fit in to ye olde English of the Elizabethan age.
The scenic designs by Scott Pask, the lighting by Jeff Croiter, the costumes by Gregg Barnes along with all aspects of this production including the orchestra conducted by Brian P. Kennedy, fit together to make this a night of fun and entertainment.
“Something Rotten” is a fine representation of what the world has come to know as the Broadway musical comedy.
Running time is 2 hours and 30 minutes including a 20 minute intermission.
This evening at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts in Fort Lauderdale at 8 PM I expect to spend 2-3 hours having fun laughing, humming (to myself) and doing what one is suppose to do in life, enjoying it!
Can you sit still listening to this?
At the Tony awards https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jnvF6A2DCAE
At the Macy’s Thanksgiving parade https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n-KPsAv7wlY
Be sure to look for my review tomorrow!
Be sure to see the last slide so you won’t hate me too much and did you spot the bluebird in the collage? He is exactly in the center of each picture.
To my family and friends, my new book is out and available to everyone. You can click on the ink below to purchase.
I want to thank you all for your love and support in this project.
Some of your names are written in the thank you section of the book.
My goal in this book was to explore solutions to achieve peace, love, and success.