Friday, December 06, 2013

Penny Thoughts ‘13—The Sound of Music (2013) *½

TV-PG, 180 min.
Writers: Richard Rogers (music), Oscar Hammerstein II (lyrics), Howard Lindsay, Russell Crouse 
Starring: Carrie Underwood, Stephen Moyer, Audra McDonald, Laura Benanti, Christian Borle, Michael Campayno, Sophia Anna Caruso, Peyton Ella, Michael Nigro, Ariane Rinehart, Grace Rundhaug, Ella Watts-Gorman, Joe West

Ho hum, ho hum. How to review this movie without getting snarky or downright cruel? I'm not sure it can be done.

In the spirit of full disclosure, it’s important to know that I did not watch the entire production. That being said, I could’ve. I just had better things to do. Well, that does sound nasty. What I mean is, I didn’t hate it so much that I just had to turn it off. But then, I like watching bad movies sometimes too.

Is this really bad? The source material is great. The production… well, the kids were good. Not great, but good. Good enough for national television? Um… can I refrain from answering? Of course, I can. This is my blog.

I liked some of the supporting adult characters, including Laura Benanti as Elsa. I liked Liesl. The two leads, however…. Well, Carrie Underwood can sing. Stephen Moyer was too soft. He lacked the harshness required for the character at the story’s beginning. Either Underwood attended to the Wooden School of Acting, or she just didn’t bother to take any sort of acting classes. I don’t like to be cruel like this to actors, but really, invest a little money—you got it—and learn about a trade before you attempt it. Sorry. That might have been too far for a critic, but sometimes, well, you need to know at least some basics before you do something.

Watching Underwood say her lines was akin to listening to kids read aloud in English class. I mean she was better than that. It would’ve passed for some good cold reading, but emote a little maybe; and a camera knows a lie, so you have to really emote, not just fake it. Then she’d start singing, and it was like a totally different performer was inhabiting the same body. “The Possession of Maria von Trapp”. There’s a new project for the makers of “Paranormal Activity”. I know everybody is going to be coming down on Underwood for all the same things, hell they were before the thing even aired, but… there’s truth to it. If you aren’t an actor, you might not be the best choice for a leading role, especially one of the most iconic ones in cinematic history. I liked her singing even better than Julie Andrews’, though. But that’s meaningless without the acting.

I love the idea of what they were attempting. What I would give to see a show like “Playhouse 90” return to television. I’d love to watch live productions on a regular basis. The logistics of what they pull off here is just amazing to me. With commercials even. I’d prefer to lose those, but still… pretty amazing that it all went so smoothly, at least what I saw. It’s too bad about the performances, though.


Anonymous said...

It wasn't a MOVIE, Einstein.

It was a LIVE PLAY, based on the original PLAY. It was brilliant.

I give your review no stars for ignorance.

Andrew Wells said...

Wow! That's some real heavy semantics lesson you're throwing around there. So when it comes out on DVD in a couple of weeks, will it be a movie then because it's prerecorded?

Andrew Wells said...

From the Oxford English dictionary:

movie (mov•ie)

primarily North American

a story or event recorded by a camera as a set of moving images and shown in a theater or on television; a motion picture.

I think that qualifies for the semantics police, Schopenhauer.

Andrew Wells said...

Oh, and since we're using semantics to apply our own cold hard definitions to events in order to validate our opinions our own personal opinions and shoot down others, it wasn't a "play" is was a musical, Steinbeck. And since it wasn't "live" in either the Mountain or Pacific timezones, or anywhere else in the world, what was it? Because it wasn't exactly a "live play" unless you went to the theater in which is was being performed and saw it as it was being performed.

Descole said...

Well, I suppose for the crew, it was a live play.

Andrew Wells said...

What you call it is not the point. Engaging in a critical debate requires more than just questioning someone's semantics, especially if you don't know the actual definitions of the words involved. Defend your opinions, people! All that takes is explaining why you feel the way you do. I'm not right. I'm only examining my own feelings about this particular production. I'd love to know yours, especially if it differs with mine. I didn't even defend my own opinion incredibly well in this post. It would be quite easy for someone to enlighten me on something I hadn't thought of, but questioning which words I chose to use does nothing to validate your feelings about this live broadcast or movie or play or whatever it is that's being discussed. That's something someone with the bravery to post anonymously should consider before throwing around words like "ignorance."

Jimh. said...

Well, I don't care much about semantics, what I do know is the wife turned it on and in about five minutes (four minutes LONGER than I'd have given it) changed to Colbert Report. Later, after she went to bed, I found it on in the bedroom...she was asleep. I tried to watch it again, since I had not found the movie detestable I felt I needed to give it a chance, but bile began to build up in the back of my throat and I decided that reading about the Air War over Iraq was considerably more interesting. Hell, the instructions to my Christmas lights was more entertaining! Did you know the Chinese write the funniest instructions? Yeah, This "Sound of Music" was shown up by the "Sound of Silence." Paul Simon wrote good stuff! And, Sir! Your review is sound and written with more diplomacy than I would've done!