Movie Mettle is a weekly column for moviegoers with weak constitutions. Wish you had the balls to sit through the goriest of horror movies? Want to build up your resistance to weepy rom-coms? Each week we’ll give you a range of five movies that will test your limits, you cinematic thrillseeker, you.
If there’s one love-it-or-hate-it movie convention that takes real resolve, it’s the musical number. Sure, the Les Miserables of the world clean up at the Golden Globes — but what about when the film isn’t a musical by any stretch of the imagination? And yet, it’s a cliché that you see in most romantic comedies, and even in a few dramas. Need to make the character more relatable? Don’t have a more creative way to have the guy and the gal confront each other in public? Whip out the microphones and step back.
There are plenty of elements that make movies unrealistic, which we’ll cover in future Movie Mettle columns. But today I felt compelled to comb through my collection for the five musical numbers that will challenge your notions of what’s plausible for cinema. The first one might have you tapping your toes, but by the end you’ll be singing into your hairbrush even as you know that this would never actually happen in real life.
Warm-Up: Stepmom[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2BVbV0CzeyI&hl=en_US&version=3]
I definitely whipped out this reference the other day in a conversation about mothers versus stepmoms, and was amazed when my girlfriends didn’t know what I was referring to. Sure, it’s a little silly to imagine kids belting out “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” with their mom in the middle of the night. But when your mom is Susan Sarandon and she’s dying of cancer? You live for today, kids. Of course, the fact that they start dancing through the halls trailing lace is what makes this number a tad unrealistic, and why it made it onto our list.
Novice: 10 Things I Hate About You
Teen rom-coms want you to believe that awkward, insecure, post-pubescent kids who have no idea about their identities are confident enough to steal the A/V club’s equipment and serenade their ladyloves with “Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You” on the bleachers. This has happened maybe once ever in the history of high school — possibly twice, since kids will do anything for viral fame these days. But it ranks low on our list because of how much we all want it to happen. And honestly, Heath Ledger sells it.
Intermediate: She’s All That[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MqiYAp4hxAU&hl=en_US&version=3]
You know which high school musical number I refuse to believe? The Fatboy Slim “Rockafeller Skank” dance sequence from She’s All That‘s prom scene. Even though the writers try to cling to credulity by having the DJ (yes, that’s Usher) claim he taught all these students the dance, there is no way everyone is that coordinated. Not to mention that at this point in the movie there’s so much drama about Laney and the bet that no one is in the mood to dance!
To their credit, the otherwise lackluster parody Not Another Teen Movie has its own dance sequence, where one student snarks, “Who would’ve guessed that everyone in this school is a professional dancer?”
Expert: How To Lose A Guy in 10 Days[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zahlMAwHrsM&hl=en_US&version=3]
This whole movie is hopelessly unrealistic, so it makes sense that it’s got a high spot on our list. This is the sequence that I most remember from this odd, contrived Kate Hudson/Matthew McConaughey rom-com, mostly because I was so embarrassed at how bad it was. Each was playing the other for the whole movie, but instead of talking it out in private like normal folks, they drunkenly sing “You’re So Vain” to each other at his company’s big launch party. Carly Simon fans, shield your ears. Everyone else, if you can get through this then you’ve got a strong constitution for the last entry…
BAMF: My Best Friend’s Wedding[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Jjedn__Wxk&hl=en_US&version=3]
Personally, this is one of my favorite movie moments ever. But that doesn’t mean I don’t recognize how utterly unrealistic it is. Julia Roberts is trying to break up Dermot Mulroney’s wedding to Cameron Diaz, but she’s employed her delightfully gay boss Rupert Everett to pretend to be her fiancé. He (totally justified) gets back at her by serenading the entire wedding party with “I Say A Little Prayer for You.” No, actually — he gets everyone to join in. While they’re sitting at a crab shack in their Sunday best. And then the rest of the restaurant starts singing. Proof that movies are as divorced from real life as they can be.
I can’t tell if Dermot Mulroney’s face is because he’s jealous that another guy is serenading his best friend/former lover, or if he’s thinking, “My God, he’s so obviously gay!”
What absurd musical numbers have I missed? Have a genre of movie that you wish you could sit through? Leave your request in the comments and I might take it on in a future column!