Guys just don't talk about musicals. The moment someone brings a musical up in conversation, a man typically thinks one of three things:
- Singing characters: a plot device that overwhelms the story.
- Great. Another flowery, "artistic" spin on what could have been a good movie.
- What's a musical, and why am I here?
Before someone rags the shallowness of these assumptions, I shall inform them that I am a man, and I have a great appreciation for most musicals and operas. However, many musicals are infamous for their blatant appeal to women, sometimes pushing the love story to the point that I want to punch through my TV to prove my testosterone is still at healthy levels.
Here are the top five manly musical films that make guys proud to watch and talk about them, ordered from the least to the most manly.
5. The Producers (2005 film)
A terrible Broadway show performance leads Max (Nathan Lane) to partner with his accountant, Leo, and create the worst Broadway musical ever made. All the while, they've worked up a plan to make an incredible amount of money from elderly lady investors and get out of town after the show's over. Max find the ultimate play to use for such an occasion named Springtime for Hitler, from playwright Franz Leibkind (Will Ferrell). Max hires a terrible cast and crew, including Franz as Hitler to ensure the play is a dud. Leo falls for Ulla, their new-found receptionist who wants to act in the play. Later, Franz readies himself for opening night and breaks his leg, giving the play's gay director, Roger, the chance to play Hitler in his place. The audience reacts to Roger's flamboyant performance a parody against the Nazi's, as opposed to Franz's original intentions.
The show is filled with manliness, from the guy humor of comedians Nathan Lane and Will Ferrell to the career-oriented, sexually-charged atmosphere. The play within the musical, with all of its ridiculousness, entertains with elements of World War II and racial backwardness. Slapstick humor abounds, including a literal pun on the term, "break a leg."
4. West Side Story (1961 film)
Based loosely off of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, this Broadway adaptation follows the story of two gangs in 1957 New York City, the Jets (white Americans) and Sharks (Puerto Rican immigrants). From the very beginning, we realize these guys just ain't getting along, as a small brawl escalates into an all-out fight before a police officer breaks it up. The gangs continue to battle throughout the film leading up to a final "Rumble," though the love story between Tony (a good friend of the Jets' leader) and Maria (sister to the Shark's leader) draws much of the focus.
The music and choreography have such a great rhythm and beat that it's hard not to hum along. Guys will appreciate the tone and flavor to this musical, and the intense fighting scenes make the romance bearable. Death, smack-talk and gang fighting. What's not to like?
3. Grease (1978 film)
Another gang takes the center stage for this musical, which is also set in the 50's. After a brief fling at the beach, Danny (John Travolta) goes back to high school and takes his place again as the rebellious T-Birds leader. After a surprised meeting with his former fling, goody-two shoes Sandy, Danny tries to maintain his rebel exterior and turning a cold shoulder. Upon realizing his mistake, Danny attempts to change his ways, but he goes too far at the drive-in theater with Sandy, turning her off. He becomes involved in sports and takes on the role of a jock, wearing on his rebel attitude. On the last day of school Sandy impresses Danny with a bad-girl look he's never seen before, and the two drive off together.
Grease poses a classic case of outward manliness versus tenderness in the face of winning a woman's heart. It gives the "guy goods," with car races, more gang rivals and sexual tension. Most men can identify with Danny's character, a guy who wants to lead, woo women and defy the system all at the same time. And of course he's well-groomed.
2. The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
With a unique stop-motion effect, director Tim Burton pulls us into a world where Halloween is king, and characters take full advantage of the festivities by scaring and celebrating all things creepy. Jack Skellington is hailed as "Pumpkin King" of the town, and he's always the one leading the charge. Even so, Jack grows weary of the monotonous celebrations, and he hatches a plot to kidnap Santa from Christmas Town and deliver toys manufactured from his Halloween friends. Realizing his folly, Jack attempts to take back Santa (now in the clutches of the bogeyman) and put him in his rightful place.
Skeletons, ghouls, witches and monsters in a fantasy world where Halloween is celebrated to the max. Oh, and the bogeyman is filled with bugs. Manly doesn't begin to describe this film, which also has a unique appeal to kids. The main song, "This is Halloween" was written specifically for men, I'm sure - it's written in a really low key.
1. Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007 film)
Sweeney Todd is an obvious number one pick for guys. With enough blood to fill a five gallon bucket and a dark story of revenge, men will talk about this one for hours with their buddies. And yes, the cameo of Borat star Sacha Baron Cohen will brighten any guy's day.