Recommendation: 5 great musical moments from non-musical films.
Because some people don't like musicals, and they're wrong.
There’s a bunch of people out there who don’t like musicals, I’m not one of them but I hear it a lot. I thought a little list like this could actually be nice for both sets of people. Or nice for no one. Who knows? Here’s the list.
Toy Story 2 (1999) - When She Loved Me
Pixar don’t have songs, in general it differentiates them from the Disney animated features. Sometimes though, you come across a feeling or plot point that is too complex or intangible to just express through dialogue without it sounding clunky.
This great montage of Jessie’s life with her previous owner coupled with the song written for the moment is a great counter balance to the Disney example. It’s not a show-stepping belter but a sad-eyed ballad about loss and nostalgia.
Shaun of the Dead (2004) - Don’t Stop Me Now
Edgar Wright in general uses music extremely well, look at that whole opening sequence to Baby Driver for another example. But for me it doesn’t surpass the jukebox-on-shuffle selection of Queen’s Don’t Stop Me Now for the pub brawl.
Hitting zombies with pool cues in sync with Roger Taylor’s drums, fiddling with the fusebox, the flickering lights, throwing darts all up to abrupt stop with one of the zombies heads smashing into the jukebox itself.
I’m Thinking of Ending Things (2020) - Lonely Room
In as much as someone could spoil this movie, this probably could count as a spoiler. However, even if you’ve seen the whole thing this won’t necessarily make sense on a storytelling level but it will make emotional sense if you’re on the movies wavelength.
Charlie Kaufman decided to show the extreme sadness and loneliness of the protagonist by having him perform this Oklahoma! classic to an audience of his peers, both real and imaginary.
The Jerk (1979) - Tonight You Belong To Me
I like when comedies manage to have extremely broad humour at the same time as being sweet. Rather than a dramatic swing between drama and pathos (I love that too but I think this is harder to do). I love the escalation of humour here from the sweet ukulele strumming of Steve Martin as he and Bernadette Peters walk down the beach to the moment where she pulls out an as yet unseen trumpet and plays the song’s solo.
Whisper of the Heart (1995) - Take Me Home, Country Roads
Sometimes this is controversial but Whisper of the Heart is my favourite Ghibli movie. I think its such a perfect distillation of the feeling of a coming of age story. The opening credits of this movie start, somewhat incongrously, with Olivia Newton John’s rendition of John Denver’s Take Me Home, Country Roads. We see images of urbanism as the lyrics tell us about the beauty of nature. It turns out the lead character has been writing a parody song about the urban developments (the translation is ‘Concrete Roads/Everywhere I go/Covering/West Tokyo/Chopped down forests/Buried our valleys/My Hometown’s/Down concrete road’), she is teased about this by a boy who later develops feelings for her.
He plays the song on his violin and gets her to sing it, which she does, shyly. Soon the boy’s grandfather and his friends join in and they play as a big ensemble. It’s really beautiful. And I love it.
Can you think of any others? Please comment and share them below!
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