June 9, 2017

The Atrocity of Sing-Along

Sam Lurie ‘19

I recently purchased tickets for the much-anticipated and now wildly successful remake of Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast.”  However, when I traveled to the theatre with my brother and cousins to see the film, I came to the grim realization that I had accidentally bought tickets to the sing-along version.
I quickly learned that sing-along movies are repulsive.
As I sat in my seat and watched the seemingly endless trailers, I began to forget what I had unwittingly gotten myself into. The film starts in dramatic fashion, telling the story of how the Beast became a beast. Within the first few minutes, I began to become immersed in the story, but abruptly, I was quickly and completely pulled back out.
Large, bright, white letters appeared at the bottom of the screen. A full moment after the letters appeared, the characters began to sing. As they sang, a little ribbon energetically bounced from one word to the next.  
Suddenly, I no longer had the ability to concentrate on what was happening in the scene above the letters. Every time I attempted to focus on the action on screen, the little ribbon or heart or flower took another animated bounce into my line of vision, causing my eyes to dart back to the white text.
 After a few minutes of extreme annoyance and frustration, I tried holding my hands up in front of me as to only see the upper two thirds of the picture and block out the atrocity taking place at the bottom of the screen. However, this soon became tiring, and I subjected myself to two hours and 19 minutes of bouncing symbols and animated letters slowly driving me to delirium.
Every time a song began to play and even every time a character spoke a few simple lines in a somewhat musical manner, the bouncing returned. I found myself relishing the sequences without music. Even during some of the great musical numbers such as “Be Our Guest,” a song I have grown up on, I wished for the tune to come to a speedy conclusion so the loathsome letters could disappear and I could continue watching the movie.
The dreadful words did not only ruin my ability to view the actual scenes, but it also compromised the movie’s timing. During a song, an entire line of five-to-10 words would appear on the screen at once. This allowed me to see everything that was about to be sung. Instead of seeing and hearing the amusing rhymes and jokes sung throughout the soundtrack, they were spoiled a few moments before at the bottom of the screen.
What baffled me most was the use of sing-along for the new additions to the soundtrack.  The live action “Beauty and the Beast” includes a number of brand new songs for Belle’s father, the objects and the Beast. But, why in G-d’s name would words and bouncing hearts appear at the bottom of the screen during these new songs, inviting the audience to sing-along?! They’re new songs! The audience has never heard them before!
I understand that the sing-along releases are geared toward moviegoers who wish to see the film again so that they can belt out the words of the musical numbers, but even so, I seriously doubt that anybody is going to watch this movie and become so enamored with the new Belle’s father song that they go home, learn the tune and words and then pay money so that they can sing it out loud to a screen.  
In my theatre, nobody sang along. When the words first appeared, it was so shocking and almost funny, that a few members of the audience jokingly read the first few verses of a song they had never heard before, before the gimmick became old and everyone spent the rest of the run time trying to tune out the bouncing flower and just watch the movie.  

To be clear, I did not entirely dislike “Beauty and the Beast.”  It was a well-acted, faithful representation of the original animated classic. However, I did feel that it was a little too faithful, adding very little to the story, making this remake’s existence pretty pointless. This was not a great film, but I would certainly have enjoyed it immeasurably more if it did not resort to the barbarity that is sing-along.

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