Omg I just saw Phantom of the Opera and I haven't laughed so hard since " Buford on the Savoy ." And you know what the sad part is? Sometimes I was just laughing at the original material from the show--not even the movie. Mom went with me, and she loves the show, and so she largely disliked the movie. If you like Michael Crawford and Sarah Brightman, you will hate this movie. If you like movies that are partly good and partly so bad that they are good, you will love this movie. I must own this movie. I want it on DVD and special edition DVD and CD and bootleg (region 1. Please? Anyone? Bueller?) and I will love it and squeeze it and call it George. I love that Minnie Driver is an awful ham. ("I hate-a my hat! We leave! Breng-a mah doggeh!") I love that Miranda Richardson is the only actor who bothers to have a French accent in a movie that is set in Paris. I love the arms with the candelabra, because that is a direct steal from Cocteau's Beauty and the Beast. I am so in love with that part. Respect. I also love the horse that carries Christine down to the boat, because that is directly from the book, and the reviewer who said that was preposterous and not in the musical and where would they get a horse OMG? He can suck it. I *heart* César. I love how Christine is asked to "start from the beginning of the aria," which is... a pop ballad with a lot of squealy notes. I love how all the operas in the movie are exactly what high-culture phobics see in their nightmares--shrill, overdressed buffoons prancing around a stage. I love how the Phantom is such a genius that his own opera is... kind of crappy. I love the Dread Pirate Roberts Corps de Ballet in "Point of No Return." I love that Christine is still trying to figure out if the Phantom/Angel is her father's ghost two hours into the movie. Because... ew, dude. That renders the whole "Music of the Night" scene UBER creepy, and not even in a good Boone-Shannon way. Seriously, though? I hate the "Masquerade" choreography. It's like... fifteen guys voguing and everyone else in miltary formation. The fuck? Also, I hate the quasi-pseudo-totally-not-actually songs that get stuck in--"Stranger Than You Dreamt," is that the one?--because exposition needs to happen. Like, people, seriously, Just talk. Rewrite the lines a little so that they all don't rhyme with each other, and we'll be fine. Because it's just lame, listening to people chant dialogue in a vaguely melodic fashion. Also, the scene where Christine rips off the Phantom's mask is one of my most favorite in the book ever, and I really wanted to see the Phantom go batshit on her, not stand there and sort of half-sing at her. But anyway. I love the actual "Phantom of the Opera" song, because it is the most '80s thing ever. I seriously just lay down in the empty seat next to me and cried with laughter. Seriously, I have it on MP3, thanks to one of y'all, and it still makes me howl. I mean, the guitars and the oh-so-bombastic organs are hilarious, but I think it's the "SING, MY ANGEL!" where I start to lose it. SO AWESOME. I howled (silently) during "Music of the Night," too, but that was my own fault. Remember, I had never actually heard the song before... Also, I want Phantom!Gerard to come to my house and live under my bed. Seriously, he can live in the cedar closet in the basement if it means that much to him. He'll just have to use flashlights instead of candles so he doesn't set the coats on fire. Oh, and since I know you're going to ask, I'll tell you: I had absolutely no problem with Gerard Butler, because I've never seen or heard the show and, quite frankly, I don't know any better. (Hell, y'all know what bad taste in music I have.) Maybe the Schumacher Phantom is one of those "Those who can't do, teach" types. I will say that the "good singer Raoul, pretty Phantom" thing is still weird, but by shifting the focus away from the quality of the Phantom's voice, it becomes more about the "enchantment." I was reading an interview with Emmy Rossum, in which she regrettably came off as a self-important twit, but whatever, and there was this brief interjection from the writer about talking to Gerard Butler about the song "Music of the Night," I think? ... hang on, I gotta go find this. Here it is. So Butler says in this article, for no appreciable reason I can tell except that it's a great quote, "If you actually listen to the lyrics, Jesus, it's about fucking, isn't it? I mean, 'The time has come'--you know, let's get it on." It's sort of illogical, the casting priorities Lloyd Webber and Schumacher seem to have had, but the effect is that it really brings forward this Victorian (Victorian = British, not French. I know. Shut up) obsession with Good Sexuality and Bad Sexuality. I mean, there's a reason Raoul looks like the lost Hanson brother here, and it's because he's the sweet, harmless, innocent one--he's The Boy You're Supposed to Marry. The Phantom--and this is totally not subtext, because the freakin' lyrics hammer it home whenever possible--is the whole "dark desire" thing. You know, the thing girls aren't supposed to feel. When does Christine escape? After she kisses the Phantom and "accepts" him, the dark side, or whatever. And then she's totally allowed to go marry the Good Boy anyway. Somehow, it brings the two sides into balance. I don't know that moving this theme to the forefront at the expense of the Phantom's voice was intentional, but--really, I'm willing to go with it. Also: there is nothing wrong with the movie itself--the camera is sort of lead-footed in a lot of scenes--that Baz Luhrmann could not have fixed. I'm just going to imagine that he directed the "Masquerade" scene.