Doug Robinson: 'Les Miserables' a couple of singers short of a musical

Published: Monday, Dec. 31 2012 10:30 p.m. MST

Men, there comes a time in your life when you will arrive at the fork of a road and must choose which direction you will take, one leading to happiness, the other to, well, misery.

I'm referring to the movie "Les Miserables," of course.

To go or not to go?

I don't want to influence you one way or another. You should make your decision based on hours of contemplation — and then do whatever it is your wife wants to do. If you think I am going to influence you to do otherwise, you are mistaken.

On the other hand: DON'T GO.

It's as long as a football game, but at least it's dull.

OK, it's got its moments. It has a big start and a big finish. It's only the 21/2 hours between those parts that I have problem with.

I realize I'm raining on the parade here. "Les Miserables" is the buzz. All the rage. It probably will win a truckload of Oscars.

So did "The Artist." I rest my case.

Did I mention "Les Miserables" is as long as a football game? Three hours. If you go, pack a meal. This deserves a halftime. By the way, the first edit of the movie was four hours long, which means the version that's playing in the theater has actually been abridged, like the book. Four hours? I would have joined Javert in the river.

Oh, and I should probably mention this, as well: THEY SING THE ENTIRE TIME.

As in, there is virtually no talking. They sing when they're walking. They sing when they're really talking. They sing when they're contemplating suicide. They sing when they're fighting wars and arresting people. They sing when they're crying, which is pretty much 24/7 (hence, the title).

If they had ordered out for Chinese, they would have sung that, too. If they had had a presidential debate, the candidates would have sung their remarks (which actually sounds like a good idea). If they had played a football game, the coach would've sent plays to the huddle with an outburst of song from the sideline and the quarterback would have audibled at the line of scrimmage with a catchy melody and Joe Buck would have done play by play a cappella.

Actually, I'm singing this column, every word of it. So sing along with me (you can make up your own tune as you go, which is what most of the conversation sounds like in the movie).

Look, I've read "Les Miserables" the book — twice. I saw Les Miz on stage. I've seen the previous "Les Miserables" movies, which are done and redone about every five years. I've pretty much got "Les Miserables" covered.

And still I went, I saw, I slept.

I went even though my friend Todd Noall texted me a few days earlier: "Les Miz was a total snooze fest! They sing the entire time. Apparently, it's a 'musical.' You've been warned …"

I went even though I got a call from my fellow columnist buddy Lee Benson warning me — "It's all singing. They don't talk."

A friend of mine texted me shortly after seeing the movie: "I just spent the last three hours bawling my eyes out."

I think he meant this was a good thing, but I could be wrong.

OK, so I'm a rube. The only culture I get is from the bottom of a yogurt cup.

I thought there would be talking, mixed with singing — not singing, mixed with more singing. I saw "Mamma Mia!" on Broadway a few months ago — there was talking between the singing. I saw "Man of La Mancha" on stage in Washington, D.C., many years ago. More talking between the singing. Les Miz — all singing.

Here's a thought: If you are going to make a musical, isn't a good idea to cast people who can — you know — SING?!?!

Russell Crowe and Hugh Jackman? You mean these guys sing?

No.

They are to singing what Tim Tebow is to throwing a football and what Claude Van Damme is to acting.

On the other hand, I could be wrong about this latest incarnation of "Les Miserables." I could be in the minority (and I expect many readers will tell me as much). I realize I could be out of step. When the movie was finished, some of my fellow moviegoers in the theater applauded. Apparently, they liked it.

Or maybe they were just glad it was finished.

email: drob@desnews.com

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