Rent

Chris Columbus' lackluster adaptation of Jonathan Larson's Pulitzer-prize-winning Broadway musical, based on Puccini's La Boheme, diminishes the impact of this powerful story about a self-made family of friends weathering a yearlong journey through life, love, drug addiction and disease. Christmas Eve, 1989: Friends Mark (Anthony Rapp), an aspiring documentarian,...read more

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Reviewed by Angel Cohn
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Chris Columbus' lackluster adaptation of Jonathan Larson's Pulitzer-prize-winning Broadway musical, based on Puccini's La Boheme, diminishes the impact of this powerful story about a self-made family of friends weathering a yearlong journey through life, love, drug addiction and disease. Christmas Eve, 1989: Friends Mark (Anthony Rapp), an aspiring documentarian, and rock musician Roger (Adam Pascal), a recovering addict searching for a song before he succumbs to AIDS, are living in an unheated East Village loft owned by their former roommate, Benny (Taye Diggs), now a successful real-estate developer. Benny threatens to evict them unless they can dissuade Mark's ex-girlfriend, Maureen (Idina Menzel), from staging a protest performance against Benny's new project, a high-rent condominium complex that will leave many longtime neighborhood residents homeless in the middle of winter. Mark and Roger refuse, and Mark instead winds up helping Maureen and her new girlfriend, Joanne (Tracie Thoms), set up for the performance, which leads into the beautifully re-envisioned number "Tango Maureen." Mark then joins activist friend Tom Collins (Jesse L. Martin), who was mugged on Christmas Eve and taken in by sweet transvestite Angel (Wilson Jermaine Heredia), a street drummer, and all three head to a support meeting for AIDS sufferers. Meanwhile, Roger — who refuses to leave the house — gets a visit from his downstairs neighbor, exotic dancer Mimi (Rosario Dawson), who's attracted to him despite his lack of interest. While loyal Rent fans will be delighted that Columbus has changed little from the stage version, the sometimes disjointed story line and traditional musical structure may be off-putting to mainstream moviegoers. Columbus made a bold and perhaps unwise choice in keeping almost the entire original Broadway cast (Thoms and Dawson are the newcomers), given that they're now significantly older than their characters — all in their late teens and early 20s — were when they first played them 10 years ago. And while most of the show's scenes work well cinematically, some are laughably miscalculated. Rock-video aesthetics and overamplification swamp "Glory" and "What You Own" while also robbing other sequences of their depth. Ultimately, the emphasis on flash disengages viewers from the story's emotional core, which is the exact opposite of what Larson intended.

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  • Released: 2005
  • Rating: PG-13
  • Review: Chris Columbus' lackluster adaptation of Jonathan Larson's Pulitzer-prize-winning Broadway musical, based on Puccini's La Boheme, diminishes the impact of this powerful story about a self-made family of friends weathering a yearlong journey through life, l… (more)

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