Big Musical Numbers in movies that have nothing to do with music. Is there anything better? I love any film that can find an excuse to have a blowout, over the top, totally unrealistic music and dance number for no particular reason. I don’t mean George Clooney singing in O Brother, Where Art Thou? Kristen Dunst back-flipping through Bring it On or Paul Mercurio doing the tango in Strictly Ballroom; each and every one of those scenes has a solid narrative reason behind them. I’m talking about the senseless performances that are thrown into a scene for sheer fun; Tom Cruise sliding across the floor in Risky Business, Vince Vega and Mia Wallace twisting in Pulp Fiction, or Tom Cruise, once again, getting down in Tropic Thunder. These are my top five completely unnecessary but utterly fantastic musical scenes in movies:
1. 10 Things I Hate About You
Heath Ledger serenading Julia Stiles in 10 Things I Hate About You; the mere mention of this scene makes my heart melt. The scene comes about when the rebellious Patrick Verona has lost the trust of his beautiful, but tough, love interest Kat Startford. To win her back he must drop the bad boy image, show vulnerability and prove that he cares for her. And so, in front of the entire school he grabs a microphone, ques the school band and serendades Kat with a rendition of “You’re Just Too Good to be True”. Ledger played the part with true sincerity, sparkly eyes and a charming smile. Every 90’s girl was done for.
2. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
In Ferris Bueller’s Day Off we are introduced to a smart ass kid who ditches school so he can spend the day with his girlfriend and best friend before they graduate and seperate for college. This being a John Hughes movie, we know not to expect an average day of ditching, Ferris won’t be spending his day at the mall. In fact, his day is anything but average; not only does he catch a baseball at Wrigley field, drive a Ferrari, swim in a neighbor’s pool and impersonate the Sausage King of Chicago, but he decides to take part in an ongoing parade. Ferris pops up in the middle of a large float, lip syncing to “Danke Schoen” and “Twist and Shout” in his very own musical number while his friends look on with sheer admiration and disbelief. No one questions this absurd moment and on lookers are only delighted to see Ferris take the lead, making this one of the most fantastically ridiculous musical scenes in cinema.
3. Easy A
In Easy A, Emma Stone’s character pays tribute to John Hughes as she says:
“Whatever happened to chivalry? Does it only exist in 80’s movies? I want John Cusack holding a boombox outside my window. I wanna ride off on a lawnmower with Patrick Dempsey. I want Jake from Sixteen Candles waiting outside the church for me. I want Judd Nelson thrusting his fist in the air because he knows he got me. Just once I want my life to be like an 80’s movie, preferably one with a really awesome musical number for no apparent reason. But no, no, John Hughes did not direct my life.”
Luckily for us, Will Gluck was willing to step in for Hughes to give Olive her big flashy musical number. Olive bursts into the school’s auditorium donning a provocative corset and proceeds to perform the school’s raciest song “Knock On Wood” while dancing seductively with a feather boa. The reasoning behind this scene will take too long to explain, but I will say that it is both totally unneccessary and completely entertaining.
4. 500 Days of Summer
500 Days of Summer is a clever romantic comedy that shows the elated highs and brutal lows of a relationship destined for failure. Each scene is introduced by what number day it is within the 500 day relationship. During one of these days, Tom struts out of his apartment, after presumably sleeping with Summer, and begins high-fiving, hugging and shaking hands with strangers in the street until he eventually breaks into dance. The general public, an image of Harrison Ford and even a cartoon bird contribute to this upbeat and cheerful performance that leaves audience members smiling. This scene shows Tom’s blissful love and adoration for Summer in a beautifully cinematic way, and creates a nice juxtaposition for the days where everything in the relationship doesn’t feel like a Hall & Oates song.
5. Slumdog Millionaire
Based on the novel Q&A, Slumdog Millionaire focuses on a poor Indian boy who has managed to get a spot on the TV game show Who Wants to be a Millionaire? Through a series of flashbacks, we find out how a poor slumdog could know the answers to numerous intellectual questions. The film is an emotional rollercoaster of love, loss, heartbreak and destiny; so why not end it with a dance? Danny Boyle pays tribute to Bollywood as he directs Dev Patel, Frieda Pinto and copious amounts of extras in an impressive dance scene set to the catchy song “Jai-Ho”. The movie won 8 of its 9 Oscar nominations including ‘Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures’ for the Song ‘Jai Ho’.
Love these movies? Have some of your own to add? Tweet it to @moviefiednyc #TT
– Sinann Fetherston