Incidental Acts of Spontaneous Cerebral Violence

Tuesday, November 16, 2004


Upon hearing that “The Lost Boys” was one of my all-time favorite movies, Joel Schumacher stared me down and delivered the above line with his singular manic intensity. Unfortunately for Messr. Schumacher and the good folks at Warner Brothers, that instant was the undisputed highlight of the evening. I can find absolutely nothing within the super special advance screening of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “The Phantom of the Opera” that even comes remotely close.

When the only moments in the film that generate an audible reaction are those featuring Minnie Driver as a (not exactly) caricaturesque diva, you know you’re in for an overblown and exhausting two-plus hours. While the ornate production design and the breathtaking costumes are certainly Oscar™ worthy, that style, typical of Lloyd Webber, belies any trace of substance. Indisputably a tremendous feast for the eyes, “Phantom” leaves its audience cold and wanting and hungry for anything invigorating.

Critical disdain for “Phantom” will likely be trained squarely upon its director, and that is hardly fair. While Schumacher is certainly responsible for much of the morass on screen, he had a tremendous handicap from the start: Lloyd Webber’s overwrought, inflated and flatulent musical. Whether your production stars Michael Crawford and Sarah Brightman or Gerard Butler and (18 year-old superstar-in-waiting) Emmy Rossum, it is impossible to escape a weak book and an imminently forgettable score.

Think about it: When was the last time you actually heard someone hum “Music of the Night”?

This is everyone from last night’s screening. And this is the enchanting Ms. Rossum.

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