May. 23rd, 2011

thehefner: (Venture Bros: Theatre People)
One of these days, I really need to work on a proper essay about Frank Oz's Little Shop of Horrors, to cover five topics in detail:

1.) Why it's one of the greatest movie musicals ever, even if the only time I ever hear it referenced in pop culture is via Family Guy (who've directly homaged it no less than three times)

2.) Why it's vastly superior to the stage versions, both the original and revival

3.) Why Menken and Ashman are perhaps the greatest musical writing duo of all time

4.) The brilliant Bill Murray scene, which adds absolutely nothing to the story

5.) Why it's a rare example of a studio audience being absolutely right in rejecting the dark original ending in favor of a re-shot happy one.

For now, I'll say this much. In the context of the original stage show, it fits to have the plant win. It's a Faustian bargain, and those never go well. But the film makes enough tweaks to the storyline, most notably with the brilliant new song "Mean Green Mother From Outer Space," that automatically make Seymour less of a weak-willed sucker who deserves his fate and more of an underdog who we WANT to win. Frankly, Rick Moranis and Ellen Greene put so much genuine emotion into "Suddenly Seymour" that I honestly can't imagine anyone really enjoying watching them lose and get eaten, as the original script warranted. But no matter how important and truthful it is to see people pay for the consequences of their actions, I find the original ending to LSOH too damn ugly, because Seymour and Audrey just didn't deserve their fates, especially since the film version pretty much absolved Seymour for Mr. Mushnik's death by outright making Mushnik an opportunistic, blackmailing thief. For those who haven't seen it, here's how the film originally ended, and it's the version preferred by Oz, Moranis, and pretty much everybody involved with the film:

It doesn't help that "Don't Feel the Plants" is the weakest song by far of all the songs included in the LSOH film. The film lost several songs from the original Off-Broadway version, and was better off for it. None of those songs were anything to write home about, and the same goes for "Don't Feed the Plants," which fails to convincingly sell the idea that the two characters whom you came to care about all died in the name of the film's overall message. It's a bad song and a bad ending that appeals only to critics who bend over backwards to betray character and emotion in the cold name of theme.

September 2012

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