Calista’s Cinema Conversations: Musical movies


"Frozen" is just one of Disney's musical films along with “Moana” and "Beauty and the Beast". (Jorge Figueroa/Flickr Creative Commons)

“Frozen” is just one of Disney’s musical films along with “Moana” and “Beauty and the Beast”. (Jorge Figueroa/Flickr Creative Commons)

Over break, I went to go see “The Greatest Showman” with my family, which inspired me to dedicate this week’s movie conversation to films with musical numbers or based on popular Broadway shows.

There are many categories of musical films: Some are based on Broadway shows, others are Disney classics and some have original scores that were adapted into Broadway shows afterward. I will help you find the films in each of these categories that you should watch and the films that you could skip over if you so choose.

Films that are based on Broadway musicals are usually a hit or a miss. Films like “Sweeney Todd,” “Into the Woods,” “Grease,” “Les Miserables,” “Annie,” “Chicago,” and “Phantom of the Opera,” are usually interesting and provide a new take on the Broadway musical. They have more elaborate sets, usually prerecorded songs and an all-around different atmosphere. The films are enjoyable but usually do not live up to the theatre performances. These films are usually not critically-acclaimed due to the material and legacy they have to live up to, but are not necessarily bad films.

Movies that create their own musical scores for the actors to sing such as “La La Land,” “Moulin Rouge!” or “The Greatest Showman” are usually enjoyable and the songs are sometimes created for the actors in the films, so the musicality is more authentic. Few of these films, like the cult classic “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” “Footloose” and “The Wizard of Oz,” are then adapted to Broadway or other theatre platforms and almost guarantee enjoyment.

Disney films are another category, since many feature a handful of songs in each movie. Although “Frozen” and “Moana” songs may be overplayed by every child who has seen it, the movies themselves are enjoyable and the songs are catchy. Live action Disney movies have become popular recently with the blockbuster hit “Beauty and the Beast.” This movie was a stellar example of the musical genre and has inspired Disney to take on many more live action remakes for both this and next year. Films like “Mulan” and “The Little Mermaid” are receiving a live action companion to their animated classic, though it is up in the air whether they will have the classic songs we all know and love.

Musicals are a great escape from the real world, hoping to make you forget for a little while that in the French Revolution they did not actually break out into songs like they do in “Les Miserables” or a that women did not actually sing in prison about the husbands they killed like they do in “Chicago.” Though these movies are not for everyone, musicals are able to cover a wide range of genres, meaning that even if you are not one who usually enjoys watching characters spontaneously break out into song, there are different types of musicals on certain topics that you may be surprised to find fit your movie preferences.

Calista Giroux is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at

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