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Rent (PG-13)

Release Date: November 23rd, 2005 by Columbia Pictures.
The Cast: Rosario Dawson, Taye Diggs, Wilson Jermaine Heredia, Jessie L. Martin, Idina Menzel, Adam Pascal, Anthony Rapp, Tracie Thoms.
Directed by Chris Columbus.

BASIC PREMISE: A group of young Bohemians struggle to survive in the East Village. Based on the Broadway show.

ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: The most thrilling scenes are during the many song and dance numbers. The great musical score along with the dazzling choreography makes for an exciting experience for your eyes and ears. The plot, for all those who haven’t seen the show, is character-driven as the characters cope with love, AIDS, and basic survival. The lively cast includes most of the performers from the Broadway show, but every single one of them shines. For those unfamiliar with the show, the main problem is that Ben (Diggs) threatens to evict the group of friends from their apartment if they don’t pay a years worth of rent that’s long past due. The other tension is that Roger (Pascal) and Angel (Heredia) both struggle with AIDS. However, the script never actually mentions the word “AIDS” or spends too much time focusing on it. Angel, a cross-dresser, provides most of the humor and liveliness like a breath of air. The sexy Mimi (Dawson) fights with her drug addiction while Roger falls in love with her. Meanwhile, Mark (Rapp) copes with the fact that his girlfriend Maureen (Menzel) left him for a lawyer named Joanne (Thoms). In a wonderful musical number, Joanne and Mark dance the tango together. The playful script allows for a few surprising moments of humor, such as when Joanne asks Mark where he learned to tango, he says—without singing—that he learned it at his Bar Mitzvah. Just like the show, Rent seems unfocused at times with its thin plot and it doesn’t take enough risks to create more dramatic tension. Nonetheless, the abundance of musical numbers is endlessly entertaining and never feels distracting from the plot.

SPIRITUAL VALUE: The only truly touching moments are in the third-act with Angel near-death as his friends are by his bedside. The romance between Mimi and Roger never feels real enough to be moving.



THE BOTTOM LINE: Great music and dazzling choreography make for an endlessly entertaining ride, but the weak storyline won’t touch your heart or mind unless you’re an avid fan of the Broadway show.

ROMMENDED WAY TO WATCH: Avid fans of the show- Movie Theater (1st Run) Everyone else- Movie Theater (2nd Run)

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