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THEATER TALK: Best And Worst Of Netflix Musicals

Emily Mae Czachor |
February 4, 2014 | 11:29 a.m. PST

Staff Writer

Too much spare time over winter break rendered many of us more heavily acquainted with recesses of Netflix than we ever anticipated. If you are an avid consumer of the site's classics ("Breaking Bad," "House of Cards," "How I Met Your Mother," etc.), perhaps you are in pursuit of a new genre of instant cinema. Should you find yourself amongst the somewhat underrated "Musicals" section, here is a list of fun flicks to sing along to or to avoid:

Must Watch:

1. "Footloose"

This 80's classic certainly side steps its way to the head of its category. 25-year-old Kevin Bacon not only sings and dances through this musical dramedy, but does so while sporting a sweeping haircut and dangerously form-fitting pants (the camera seems to enjoy highlighting the latter observation). Aside from a young Bacon's toned backside, Footloose's upbeat ensemble numbers and high-energy dance moves is a carefree watch with a worthwhile plotline. The film's 2011 remake, featuring Dancing With the Stars performer, Julianne Hough, is not quite as satisfying. Stream it here.

2. "Grease"

Even if you've never seen the film in its entirety, we've all heard at least a segment of the gossipy group number, "Summer Nights." The star cast of Grease doo-wop's its way through this feel good story - with a tinge of turmoil to add a suspenseful edge to the characters. There is always ample time to watch John Travolta wearing a leather jacket and flaunting a combover. Stream it here.

3. "The Nightmare Before Christmas"

This spooky Halloween musical disguises itself as a children's tale, when in reality, its mangled clay-mation figures and haunting melodies enthrall audiences of a variety of ages. The movie combines eerie visual images with simple but resonant lyrics, and finishes on an oddly optimistic note (not much else is expected of Disney). Essentially, Tim Burton always wins. Stream it here.

READ MORE: 9 Best Romantic Comedies On Netflix

Best of Broadway:

4. "Into The Woods"

Experience Stephen Sondheim's Tony Award-winning musical in the comfort of your home. The taping of the 1990 Broadway musical showcases the powerhouse performances of original castmembers Bernadette Peters and Joanna Gleason. "Into the Woods" places a dark twist on the concept of "happily ever after." Stream it here.

5. "Shrek: The Musical"

This upbeat and fun musical captures the essence of Disney on the Broadway stage. Also the recipient of a Tony Award, the show breathes vitality into the cartoon film. Authentic costumes and huge stage presences—Sutton Foster's vocal magic ignites the storyline—keep the audience smiling throughout the show's duration. Stream it here.


Still Better Than Re-runs:

6. "RENT"

Despite its raving acclaim as a raw and beautifully truthful Broadway musical, the movie falls a bit short of its live theater success. Although many of the undeniably talented original cast members (such as idina Menzel and Taye Diggs) returned to reprise their roles in the film, both the music and story lose their spark behind the camera. The movie excludes a large amount of the music featured in the two-hour Broadway production, and as a result feels flat and occasionally lacking the emotional power of the show. Some musicals are better suited for the stage. Stream it here.

READ MORE: 9 Most Underrated Movies On Netflix

7. "Camp"

The film's title serves as a double entendre in this case. The plot centers around a group of misfit teenagers at a musical theater summer camp, allowing for scenarios that fulfill the quintessential idea of "campy." The characters' conflicts are petty and at times inconceivable, although there are select moments that redeem the film—including teenage Anna Kendrick's outrageous vengeful antics, and Tiffany Taylor's inspirational ballad, "Here's Where I Stand." Stream it here.

Worse Than Sequels:

8. "Don't Go In the Woods"

If you've read the title and the film teaser and are still considering viewing this horror/musical mashup, then proceed at your own risk. A remake of a 1981 cult film (this is honestly surprising, unless this version stripped away all of the original's potential), the movie follows the tired pattern of a B-list horror movie, with added musical breaks. Stream it here.

9. "The Apple"

This semi-futuristic (it depicts a comical 1994) rock-opera style film is cringe worthy in every aspect. Misplaced disco fever meets science fiction meets disconcerting Biblical allegories in this 1980's box office flop. This film is only appropriate if you're seeking an uneasy chuckle at the movie's foolishness. Take the warning; do not suffer through this. Stream it here.

For more theater coverage, click here.

Reach Staff Reporter Emily Mae Czachor here



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