A CHORUS LINE
MOVIE: **1/2 (out of 5)
BLU-RAY EXPERIENCE: * (out of 5)
Michael Douglas as ZACH
Alyson Reed as CASSIE
Terrence Mann as LARRY
Sharon Brown as KIM
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Directed by: Richard Attenborough
BY KEVIN CARR
In my younger days, I flirted with the theater. I never traveled to Broadway, that’s for sure. I experienced live performance in musicals and drama with as much interest as your average person would. I was in the choir in school and the drama club. With the exception of a serious attempt at filmmaking in the early 2000s, I left that world behind to focus on other things.
However, I still have vivid memories of what it was like on the stage and what it was like to be the one auditioning rather than being the one reacting to things. It’s no fun, let me tell you.
I remember when “A Chorus Line” was a huge musical in the 80s, and I remember the release of the feature film in 1985. We even started watching it in high school choir class, but for some reason we never got much farther than the first round of dancers.
When the Blu-ray came across my desk, it gave me the welcomed opportunity to finally take a moment to watch the film. The movie follows a group of dancers auditioning for a Broadway production. Michael Douglas plays the choreographer who is running the show from the middle of the seats. Rather than simply choosing and cutting performers based on their abilities, he begins to interview them to find a more personal connection.
“A Chorus Line” is one of those pieces that probably worked much better as a live production. Pulling the curtain back on the audition process in a real theater probably felt more real, and I can see why it became such an event on Broadway.
As a movie, it’s about half-way there. It definitely appeals to anyone who has been involved in musical theater, as they can relate to at least a few people’s stories on stage. However, if you’re not in that crowd who grew up watching “Fame” and doesn’t know what a real theater stage feels and smells like, a lot of the nuances of the film will fly over your head.
Like many of the popular musicals from the 80s, this production relies on the strength of its songs. While it has some very memorable numbers (in particular, “One,” “What I Did for Love” and “I Can Do That”), there’s a lot of them that are as much as the dancers that get cut in the first round; that is to say, they’re good enough to make it on the stage and be heard, but they’re missing the “it” factor that would make them stars.
So, is “A Chorus Line” a faithful production? Sure. Is it a neat film that appeals to the musically minded? Absolutely. Is it a great film? Not really. It definitely has its moments, and there’s an audience out there that will love it. However, like “Rent,” which was made a decade later, it’s really more for the fans of the musical theater. You know the type I’m talking about… the ones who made TV shows like “Glee” and “Smash” hits (at least to a certain degree).
Unfortunately, like many of the MGM releases to Blu-ray, this has been done with little fanfare and no special features. Sure, there’s the original theatrical trailer to the film, which is still interesting to watch how it was packaged in 1985, but the disc has no added features beyond the ability to see it in high definition with out the pan-and-scan blur of a VHS tape.