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Dated? I think not, my friends...
jlwb23 November 2005
So I'm reading the reviews...none seem too terrible, most are lukewarm, and some are even good. But one theme seems to override them: the material is "dated." Figures that journalists, whose livelihoods depend on presenting news flashes that will easily fall into the shadows after something more captivating happens, would find this material dated. You really think the topic of people living with -- not dying from -- AIDS is dated? Wake-up, friends...I'm not one to throw around statistics, but even I can tell you that AIDS is a much bigger problem today than when Jonathan Larson -- a genius in his own right -- wrote this almost 20 years ago. And drug addiction? Yeah let's not even guess how much that statistic has surged.

True, the material is not as shocking as it was when it first graced the stages of NYC 10 years ago. But -- though I never knew the man -- I have a feeling Mr. Larson was not going for shock value. I am sure he realized in his day that his masterpiece would create quite a stir, but I highly doubt that was his purpose. What was it, then? If you ask me, it is obvious ...the human condition.

The elements of humanity that satiate the stage version are virtually all apparent in the film version. These characters are vastly different from each other on the surface -- but listen to their songs. They are all experiencing life. And not only that, for the most part they aren't afraid to experience life -- the devastations, the love, the convictions, the laughter, the tears. Just listen to Seasons of Love -- it's all in there. That song, to me, is the premise of Mr. Larson's story -- this is life. It isn't necessarily glamorous, it isn't always glorious, but this is what happens in a year of these peoples' lives. And the one thing that gets them through it is the fact that they have each other -- their love for one another overshadows all of the intricacies of day-to-day life. And that theme, to me, is never dated, especially when it is portrayed so well, as Chris Columbus and the incredible cast have managed to do.

I applaud everyone who had any part in this film -- aside from the excellent adaption of Jonathan Larson's exquisite piece of art, I think it is extremely important to constantly expose our society to controversial topics, about which most of us don't like to think. And I think the ones that are dubbed "dated" are the most important, because it means that those are probably the ones we have forgotten. But just because it seems "dated" does not mean it has gone away.
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Forget Potter, Pay your "Rent"
krusty64114 November 2005
Please forgive the cheesy opener. I know that "Rent" hasn't started off with the best press in the world. Some questioning Chris Columbus' direction, some questioning the actors, some questioning the film in general. All I can say, however, is wow! I must admit that I was extremely skeptical about the entire project, and that I'm not a "rent-head", and this wasn't one of the movies on my wish list to see, but it satisfied me plenty. First off, lets talk story: most know the story, the one of eight East Villagers struggling with everyday life, with a few extremes. Just problems like money issues, drug addiction, and AIDS! A story that could easily be drove full speed into cliché heaven, but doesn't. It makes you feel the ups and downs of these characters. And how they convey all this not only through dialogue, but through song as well. Which brings me to my next point: the music. Being a theater major, I have heard the original cast album quite a few times, and not that it was bad, its just the movie music has this "pop" to it that vibrates your eardrums and your heart in the best ways. And like I said, no disrespect to the original. My final point centers around what many are saying will destroy any chances of this movie entering the Oscar race: the direction. Well, sorry to disappoint the Columbus skeptics out there who think he should stick to "Home Alone's" and "Harry Potter's", but he captured exactly what this movie was about. The grittiness, the hardships, life, love, NEW YORK! He gives the movie realistic credibility, which is always hard to accomplish with musicals (i.e. - people breaking into song and dance on the subway). These people sing, and it makes you think no differently of life. And to touch up on one more thing, the acting, what can you say? This cast overcame unbelievable obstacles to make this work, and they did just that. Anthony Rapp does an amazing job in leading this cast. "La Vie Boheme" hasn't left my mind since I left the theater. Adam Pascal and Rosario Dawson are such a couple to watch. Such chemistry between the two. Their developing relationship throughout the movie makes you laugh, cry, and, well, cry a little more. Another scream of a relationship was Idina Menzel and Tracie Thoms as Joanne and Maureen. Talk about an unlikely couple! Somehow, though, they make it work oh so well. Taye Diggs is gold, as usual, as the roommate turned landlord to Mark and Roger. The two that really caught my eye, though. The performances that will go in my photographic movie character memory in a very special spot are Angel and Collins (aka Jesse L. Martin and Wilson Jermaine Heredia). Two guys I have yet to see on film (exception with Martin on "Law and Order") brought to the movie what this movie was about the most, and that is love. "I'll Cover You", sung by the duo, will melt your heart in a second.

In conclusion, all I can say is just give this movie a chance. Don't just go off the negative buzz, because this truly is a beautiful movie. A movie that will have you appreciating your life more and more by the second. The movie that will take you on the emotional roller coaster of life. See the Holiday movie of the year.

"No Day but Today"
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Thank You, Jonathan Larson
GloryBlaze200429 October 2005
Warning: Spoilers
I have been sitting on this review for a while, and I actually have not had time to come around and post my thoughts. A crew member of mine from OC scored me some advanced screening tickets through Sony Studios, which basically meant there was about thirty of us in a small theater watching RENT on the big screen.

So on to the movie. To say the least, it was an incredible and moving experience. I am the most critical RENT head. I love everything about the lesson of Larson, but I was one of the most doubtful of whether or not this movie could pull through. But it did, and in fact it was one of the most incredible refreshing flicks I've seen in a while. Too often are we left with movies that we've seen too many times before. Hackneyed plots and overzealous characters. RENT is none of that. From the minute the first chord of the movie starts, you are whipped into that "emotional and visceral sensation we all had going to our first rock concert" as Chbosky would put it. "So God damn happy." No, really on to the movie. The first fifteen minutes are overwhelming. But in a good way. I'm not one to spoil, in fact I refuse to do so. But the flash backs and forwards of character motivations and livelihoods and the song "Seasons Of Love" accompanying it all is a great way to start the film, and by the time the actors really start acting you already feel incongruously close to them.

The structure of the film is genius in itself, and is what the play version is mostover lacking. With the opening montage and character motivations, you immediately are attached to love these eight individuals. With the fun and excitement that follows through and pursues, your bonds are strengthened so much more with each of them so that when the heartbreaking conclusion does occur, you are all the more affected.

Not one performance was lacking in emotion, and the choice to bring back the majority of the OBC and bring onboard Dawson and Thoms were fantastic casting decisions. To me, the standout performance of the feature was Jesse L Martin as Tom Collins. Not only is he given the biggest character dilemma to deal with, and arguably one of the most fantastic character arcs in the movie, but his acting is superb and in the event of Angel's death - you're right there with him. As emotionally wrecked as he.

Rosario Dawson's portrayal as Mimi was phenomenal. The only reason Dawson failed to stand out as much as Martin is that she is obviously less 'musically inclined' than the rest of her cast. Her "Out Tonight" dancing, however, is hot and floored every male in the room. Dawson easily snagged her first nod buzz with this role, as supplemented by the FYC poster with only her upon it, and she very well could give any other actress a run for their money. Her spirit and her charm are almost entrancing to the audience, and when she loses it all - and essentially dies (emotionally and mentally) it leads to a more heartbreaking moment than Angel's passing.

Thoms and Menzel are the other two shining jewels of the cast offering two equally stunning performances and vocal talents. Menzel does well in portraying a very flirty, ditzy (and very Jewish) Maureen - however, even though some are saying Menzel will easily land a nomination Maureen is too realistic of a character to considerably be phenomenal acting, and Menzel is really only given one scene to show the sensitive side to her frivolousness, and the acting isn't anything to write home about.

The other notable performance is by Adam Pascal. Mediocre scene motivation, but incredible emotion and fantastic vocals. Pascal won't land any nomination for his portrayal, but he certainly helps Dawson carry the movie as being the other lead in the love story between the two.

Diggs, Rapp and Heredia all do well in their individual role. Rapp is offered much more of a lead role than in the play, but he fails to comprehend the fact that he is in a film and doesn't have to be as 'big' as a theatrical production. Diggs is solid for his scenes, but rarely involved. And Heredia's performance is truly outstanding, and when supplemented with Martin's Collins' is heartbreaking, it's just a shame that he has absolutely no name for himself to land a nod. He certainly deserves it.

All in all, RENT is a masterpiece and should be recognized as so. Despite its PG-13 rating, it is a very fierce and intense movie that really draws out the issues of homelessness, homosexuality, AIDS and bohemianism in New York in the 1990s. The screening I saw included both Halloween and Goodbye, Love (contrary to what others are saying), so whether or not the cuts were actually made, I have no clue about.

Needless to say, RENT will be a blockbuster hit among all generations and is definite Oscar material and after such negative reviews of most contenders, I'd say it has a shot at the gold. The Picture, Direction and Cinematography were fantastic and the performances of Dawson and Martin may easily land them nominations. The movie doesn't feel the need to deal with the controversial subjects delicately, because they are anything but delicate subject matter - but they do handle every situation with class and that is the class that gives RENT its charm.

The movie is certainly a very moving piece of art, and just as Colombus said on the OMS, I caught myself crying "Thank You, Jonathan Larson."
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Isau26 December 2005
Warning: Spoilers
I'll begin by admitting I have never seen Rent on stage. This review will concentrate on Rent as a movie rather than as an extension of a stage show.

Rent, the movie, was a mixed bag for me. On the good side, all of the actors perform well. Rosario Dawson and the guy who played Tom Collins stood out in particular. Additionally all of the singing voices were excellent, outdoing similar Hollywood efforts like Chicago and Moulin Rouge (although not exceeding legendary vocals like Cheryl Barnes' turn in Hair). The actress playing Joanne and the actor playing Collins deserve special credit for their voices, and the actor playing Angel is a fantastic dancer, far better than what is typically seen from leads in this sort of movie.

Unfortunately, despite its good production values, there were several places where Rent failed to connect. For starters, the set design was good but a bit too glossy. Another reviewer said it looked like "Disneyland" and I'm inclined to agree; la vie bohemme in fiberglass. The sets were also dimly lit in many cases, making it difficult to see the actor's faces.

The most unforgivable aspect of Rent, sadly, is the pandering storyline. Despite the best efforts of the actors, the drama simply fails to connect. Never in this film did I feel close to the characters or sympathy for their plight. Instead they came across as whiny, self destructive, and demanding. I do not know how much of this originated from the play. The message of the movie very nearly seems to be "Honest work destroys the soul." Another criticism I have, and as far as I can tell this goes all the way back to the source material, is that the situation of these characters seems rather unbelievable and, more specifically, the musical style mostly irrelevant to them. If I had to guess what kind of music squatters in New York City would choose to represent themselves, the lyrical stylings of Rent would be far, far down the list. In this way Rent seems more to reflect external perceptions of the "bohemian life" than how real people in these situations would chose to present themselves. This may be what the author intended, but I doubt if most viewers interpret it that way.

On a final note, I have already seen some people accuse some Rent detractors of not "getting" it because of inherent homophobia, fear of AIDS and so on. As a gay man, the ex-lover of someone who is currently suffering from HIV, and someone with more than a little experience with some of the vices shown in this film, I absolve anyone feeling guilty, because Rent, the movie, does not really make a convincing argument about any of these situations. I am glad on some level that the film was "brave" enough to try, but a better follow-through would have increased my enjoyment.

My overall score: 5/10
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no1voice7 November 2005
Everything said in the first post is pretty much correct - except some minor points. I'm a MAJOR Musical Theater fan, but I've never been much of a 'Rent-head', (I find the story a bit pretentious and self aware - basically a modern version of "Hair") - yet the emotion and energy is real and infectious, fueled by an incredible and memorable score.

As I remember, though, both the songs "Halloween" and "Goodbye, Love" were NOT in the final cut I saw last night (11/6), but the interview with the cast and director was inspirational!

The best factor for me was that Director Columbus made a decision to shoot it AS A MUSICAL and not try to hide it's musical theater roots (like say, "Chicago"). Also, he cast many members of the original cast (a throwback to old movie musicals). These were brave and successful moves, and should finally knock down that door to MORE movie musicals.

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Bohemians in Alphabet City
jotix10026 November 2005
It's obvious this musical has an incredible fan base. That became evident when we saw the movie version the other day. There were a lot of young people in groups that came to see what director Chris Columbus did to the musical that is still running on Broadway after nine years. The screen adaptation is by Steve Chbosky.

"Rent", written and composed by Jonathan Larson, started as a small musical at the NY Theater Workshop and then was transferred to the Nederlander theater where it's still playing. The film has six of the original cast members in it, the exception being Freddie Walker who is substituted by Tracie Thoms and Daphne Rubin-Vega who was the original Mimi, a role that went to Rosario Dawson in the film.

This movie will definitely resonate with a younger audience. The music is targeted to them. This is a pop-rock opera and make no mistake about it. Don't go thinking you are going to find anything resembling Puccini's "La Boheme". The musical is extremely loosely based on the characters from the opera, but that's where all the comparison ends. The people one sees in the musical are more real because the pain of what is going on in their lives is clearly evident. The AIDS epidemic affects a few of the characters; there are gays and lesbians just being themselves without anyone judging what they do. At the bottom of it all is every day survival in that environment.

What "Rent" is, it's a celebration of the life on that side of New York during the 80's when anarchists populated the lower east side of Manhattan squatting in abandoned buildings and living precariously at the edge of a society that didn't want them around. The young people that were attracted to the area brought with them a new way of living without prejudice.

Alas, everything comes to an end. In fact, just a tour of the area today will show the gentrification that is taking place after Mayor Giuliani and his ilk got these bohemians evicted in order to give way to condominiums and new luxury dwellings where the people the movie celebrate will have no chance to live in them at all. This seems to be the problem when artists create spaces that later on are taken over by the establishment, only to displace the creators, as has happened in Soho, Dumbo, and will not be too far behind in displacing the Williamsburg's artistic settlers.

As a film, "Rent", has great moments. Even though one has heard the songs many times, there is still a fresh take on them by the talented cast that sing them. Anthony Rapp, Adam Pascal, Wilson Jermaine-Heredia, Jesse Martin, Taye Diggs, Idina Menzel, Tracie Thoms and Rosario Dawson work as an ensemble under the direction of Mr. Columbus, who would have appeared as an unlikely candidate for directing the film, but who brings the best from his talented cast.

By the way, "Rent" was filmed in the west coast, so don't go looking for any authentic East Village locations, since most of what one sees was probably shot in a studio. The Horseshoe bar is shown on the outside, and a scene of Tompkins Square Park, but the rest is fake.
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Keeping an open mind.
drmikeymuscle14 November 2005
I saw 'Rent' at a screening on Nov.12. I had seen the stage version both in NYC with the original cast as well as in LA with a different cast. The music and story has been echoing in my head for the past 10 years. So I was bound to be critical, but determined to be open-minded as this was going to be a film, not a stage musical. Chris Columbus did a wonderful job in preserving the message and feelings Jonathan Larson I think wanted people to take away with them. The changes made to bring this story to the screen were artfully accomplished. The film is gritty and sad and has a feeling of hopelessness that was difficult to transmit in a stage venue. The music that made it into the film is spectacular, and the soundtrack is indeed better than the OBC recording. The loss of several songs, though at first disappointing, works in the context of the movie. I hope all you fellow 'Rentheads' give this film the chance it deserves. I will be in the theater on opening day next week to see it again for sure.
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left me speechless, speechless
poetellect8 November 2005
this movie made me cry. out of joy and sadness combined. the music makes me want to sing and love. the music heals. the story inspires. the music heals. i'm glad musicals are still made. :-) wow. that's really all i can say. beautiful. exquisite. gorgeous. bountiful. soulful. well-edited. and unbelievably acted. and unbelievably directed. with unbelievably beautiful cinematography. and choreography that knocks your socks off. i loved this movie. it's wonderful, and heartening, that in a world and nation so full of hate art can be produced such as RENT! that reminds, affirms, validates, expresses, navigates, investigates, perpetuates, stimulates, fumigates, explicates, redirects, and instigates nothing other than love. and enjoying the moment. and not holding onto the past. timeless lessons. timeless music. Oscar gold written all over this.
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enjoyed it!
d4r4423 November 2005
I thought it was great. I am a huge fan of the stage version but i felt very much the same in watching the movie. i did miss certain favorite moments that had been removed but i feel like the movie worked completely! i wish i could own it already! I felt like Jesse L. Martin and Adam Pascal were amazing to watch. I love everyone but those two really stood out to me. the bursting out into song was not awkward at all and the whole feel of the move over all just really worked. I feel like Christopher Columbus really stayed true to the overall feel and really stayed true to the fans. I was glad to be so moved by a movie. I cant wait to hear more response from or old.
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WTF was THAT???
deetdee1211 March 2006
Warning: Spoilers
I will confess I never (though I lived in NYC at the time) saw this on Broadway--and despite quite a few protests that the stage version was better, while it certainly couldn't have been WORSE, I can't imagine much improvement with those craptacular songs.

Ironically, I would've been Bohemian-ish (at least somewhat) at the time this was set and I would've have nothing but contempt for a group of pretentious slacker junkies who couldn't be bothered to do SOMETHING to support themselves ethically. I also hung out in the East Village at the time...11th and Ave A was fully gentrified at least 6 or 7 years BEFORE this silliness even takes place. One of the first trendy restaurants, The Pharmacy (located at A and 9th) was well established by 1982, for crying out loud! Very few true struggling bohemians could afford the East Village by 1989.

I found nearly every character thoroughly loathsome and painfully dim, as well. The only one I could stomach was Joanne, probably because really, she was largely an outsider and she had an actual gasp job!!!! Which she did without issues!!!

Other things I found just repugnant: it was twice treated as completely hilarious that Angel killed a dog for $1,000. Akitas are LOVELY dogs, and animal abuse is sick and gross; Pseudo Bon Jovi was a recovering addict, yet everyone was overjoyed when he and perpetually jonsing Mimi become a couple--and given it was a previous girlfriend that had gotten him hooked in the first place--Maybe NOT such a good coupling; I noticed as they all patted themselves on the back at the bar (I frequented the real one, it looks nothing like that inside)for their avant garde status, they were completely loathsome to the wait staff...dudes, chances are the servers are boho, too---THEY just take responsibility for their lives. I bet all those %#@* don't tip, either.

I rented this movie, since the awful (and yet still too kind) reviews kept me from wasting my $$$ at the theater. I want my $3.79 rental fee back, though.

P.S. there was one OTHER character I did like, the homeless lady who told pompous, pretentious Mark and his junior high film project to %$&* off.
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An excellent adaptation of the stage musical
resq4464 November 2005
"Rent" is an excellent adaptation of the stage musical. It is handsomely filmed and very well acted. The movie version takes the story out into city's real locations.

Most of this movie is singing, but it is so well done it never breaks the 'suspension of disbelief' that as an audience we grant the fiction we are watching.

This 'rock operetta' is about a group loft-dwelling 'Bohemian' New Yorkers, some of whom have AIDS. The stage version has a devoted following of 'Rentheads' including director Chris Columbus, for whom this film was a labor of love.

I saw it with several young people and they really connected with the story's message of friendship, tolerance and living every day to the fullest. Some elderly members of the audience thought the music was being played too loud and they couldn't identify with the lifestyle depicted in the story.

This movie could attain the cult status of the stage musical.
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This property is condemned...
majikstl28 November 2005
RENT opens full throttle with the cast loudly singing to show us that they are intensely angry about something, though just what they are angry about or why they feel compelled to put it into song is never made clear. Indeed, as the film meanders along for over two hours, it never really goes anywhere beyond the usual contrived plot complications about lovers breaking up and getting back together.

It is obviously going for a slice-of-life quality, trying to recreate a time and a place, in this case AIDS-era New York, circa 1990. The multi-award winning play is based on Puccini's opera "La Boheme," but the film rather apparently seeks inspiration from the screen version of HAIR. Like HAIR, RENT features a rambling plot that only provides an excuse for the songs; but unlike Milos Foreman's underrated classic, RENT is saddled with rather mundane music and cursed with lackluster staging. Tony awards and a Pulitzer prize notwithstanding, RENT drones from one barely memorable song to the next, trying to be soulfully operatic but revealing its greatest weakness: it's faux operetta can't conceal that it is an utterly trivial story about utterly trivial people.

HAIR has the added advantage of being about an era with distinction; the late 1960s were utterly unique in style, attitude and relevancy. Other than taking place at the heart of the AIDS epidemic, there really isn't anything that lends distinction to the milieu that RENT desperately tries to document; 1990 being not that much different from, say, 1975, or for that matter 2005. RENT has the sort of timeless banality that is purposely built into TV sitcoms so that they can play eternally in reruns; if the dialogue didn't mention what year it takes place, it would be difficult to tell. It is certainly difficult to care.

The cast repeatedly breaks into one song or another that pointedly celebrates nonconformity, as if such a thing was a unique and original concept. Unfortunately, so much of what the film embraces as being bohemian, seems less shockingly radical than just plain shallow and trendy. What is set forth as originality comes off as cliché, warmed over beatnik and/or hippie counterculture posturing. Rather than being universal in nature, the film's call for freethinking seems strangely generic. If anything, RENT seems geared to do little more than to romanticize poverty and failure.

A good example is the character of Mark Cohen, a wannabe filmmaker played by Anthony Rapp. Mark is cursed with a caring, middle-class family and is obviously slumming; the great tragedy he suffers during the course of the story is that he lands a high paying job with a future. Throughout the movie, he is constantly filming some sort of vague documentary about his own life, which prompts him to prattle on about his artistic integrity. To this end he utilizes an old-fashioned, hand-cranked camera, eschewing opportunities to use state-of-the-art equipment, let alone get money to finance his project. The resulting film proves to be little more than an amateurish home movie. He is not an artist; he's a kid playing with a toy. RENT is an ambitious effort about people without ambition, merely kids at play.

The roles are tailor-made to safely conform to PC standards of diversity; a carefully balanced quota of blacks, whites, Jews, Latinos, straights, gays, AIDS sufferers, addicts, "yuppie scum" and the now almost mandatory free spirit cross-dresser. But it is the type of diversity that is only skin deep; none of the characters stand out as unique individuals; they are diverse for political correctness sake. The characters come together to keep their crumbling tenement building from being torn down, apparently so the characters themselves don't have to actually get on with their inert lives. RENT is a contradictory story that celebrates nonconformity through characters who conform to their common fear of change and growth.

The film's milquetoast radicalism extends to its production, which is no more bold or original than its call for nonconformity. Director Chris Columbus makes little effort to experiment in staging or editing the musical numbers; when he isn't obviously copying A CHORUS LINE or HAIR, Columbus gives us an endless array of static shots of characters standing and singing; so much so that the rare inventive moment, such as Rapp and Tracie Thoms nicely doing "The Maureen Tango," seem strangely out of place. Had the film brushed aside its lame story and been more of a musical revue of showstoppers, (like HAIR, or CHICAGO, or GODSPELL or anything by Busby Berkeley or Astaire and Rodgers) then the superficiality of the material would be irrelevant. RENT strives to be neither original nor traditional and ends up not being much of anything.
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An Unfortunate Disappointment
jason-110824 November 2005
In short, save the $9 ticket price, and buy the Broadway Cast Album instead. It will bring you much more joy and will give you a vastly better perspective on the composer's original vision.

I consider the film to be an unsuccessful translation of the show, which I have seen in New York eight (8) times as of 11/23/05. I appreciate that making a film of a play must be very difficult, and I don't fault Mr. Columbus or Mr Chbosky for being unsuccessful, but I think that some of the choices made in altering the original, Pulitzer Prize winning, book were unfortunate.

In general, I thought that the film was tedious and disjoint, but the most severe problem was that I felt no empathy with the characters in the film, whereas I do in the play.

The film was stripped of most of the original book's wit and edge. Where was Mark's mom singing on the answering machine? Where was Alexi Darling's message from the Hamptons? And Mimi's dance at the Cat Scratch Club, like many other aspects of the film, was sanitized to ensure the film's PC-13 rating. Can you imagine Quentin Tarintino sanitizing Salma Hayek's dance in From Dusk Till Dawn to get a PG-13 rating? A correctly made film would have received an "R" or "NC-17" rating.

If you can imagine how interesting Pulp Fiction would be without profanity or violence, you can imagine how interesting the film Rent is.
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a film so pointless, so banal, you'll ask for the two and half hours back
Pasafist28 November 2005
RENT the film works for exactly four minutes. The opening credits role and then the cast sings 521,600 Minutes and its all downhill from there. What follows a nice opening is a film so pointless, so banal, you'll ask as my wife did for the two and half hours back you spent watching RENT.

I remember when RENT opened on Broadway. I remember I had a buddy who camped out on the street to see the play. I remember people called RENTheads would record the shows in other cities and trade bad audio and video of the off Broadway productions starring Molly Ringwald and Doogie Howser. It was a phenomenon based on the tragic death of it's creator Jonathon Larson more than a well made show, and so the play stayed untouched, unfiddled around with, for who would dare touch the Genius of Larson? Who would dare walk on his grave? If I were the director of this movie I would have begged for a rewrite. If ever there was a film dying for some heart, some central core, its RENT. It's jumbled, it's messy, it contains characters that don't mesh, there's no coherence, no one worth rooting for, no one worth hating, and that's wrong. The passion and drive of the clunky play may work as live theater, heck CATS works as live theater, but RENT is charmless, pointless, and murky and it really shouldn't be.

RENT follows the exploits "in the year of the life" of Mark (Anthony Rapp) the angst ridden film maker, Roger (Adam Pascal) the Rockstar with AIDS, Mimi (Rosario Dawson) the heroin addicted Stripper with a heart of gold (and AIDS), Tom (Jesse L. Martin) the unemployed professor with AIDS, Angel (Wilson Jermaine Heredia) the Drag Queen (with AIDS) who steals Tom's heart, Maureen (Idina Menzel) the performance artist and Mark's Ex-Girlfriend, and Joanne (Tracie Thomas) the Lawyer who falls in love with Maureen. They are the bohemians, they can't pay the rent, they can't pay the heat, and everyday they stand the chance of being evicted. So they sing. They sing a lot, and at one point at a protest, they Moo. That causes a near riot. I wanted to laugh, but I didn't because I didn't want to be mean to the rest of people in the theater. But I had a feeling they were watching a different movie cause they kept clapping.

Why was this film so joyless? Why were the main characters so whiny? Why does RENT have no real heart? The film just assumes that we the audience will like these people and so it makes no attempt to allow them to win our hearts. It assumes that because the script has introduced us to them that they are friends. But half the film revolves around how these people don't get along. They are disgruntled about life and yet the film praises that fact and instead of doing anything about it they whine. They hate progress, they protest the idea of personal responsibility, and fight the man, for what? Nothing but a crappy apartment in New York City.

The most honest moment in the film comes when the Mark films a homeless women who was being harassed by the cops. The homeless women look at him and screams something like "don't exploit me, get a job." These people are not happy, the lifestyle they promote is pointless and the film fails to take a stand on any of it.

The film also doesn't work on a purely technical level. The dialog clunks haphazardly into the songs. The actors take a moment to reflect before the songs take off, and none of the songs are worth humming when you leave the theater. But you'll have 521,600 minutes attacking you in your dreams. If the screenplay would have been retooled to fit the screen instead of the screen trying to replicate the stage a better movie would have emerged. But RENT will appeal only to those who love the play.

The other glaring problem is the actors seem too old to embody these parts. With actors culled from the original off-Broadway cast, it casts and even deeper gloom over the film. We all have to grow up, this group of 30-somethings edge on pathetic. A new cast of twenty-somethings would have worked a bit better.

So save your money. You thank me I promise.
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A movie that lives up to its expectations!
zoey7710 November 2005
I saw an early screening of rent tonight in Toronto and loved it! I had seen the musical several times and didn't think the movie could live up to the play. I was mistaken, the movie was incredible!!!! I wanted to clap after every number and I cried just as much as I did when I watched the play. This movie did not hide the fact that it was a musical, the characters would break into song walking down the street, in the subway or at a restaurant. I did hear some people discussing the film afterwords saying that they had to hold in laughter every time a character started to randomly sing. I must say it was a little weird though knowing every line of a movie the first time you see it. If you are a huge Rent fan like myself and know the original CD by heart you will find yourself talking and singing along with the film. This movie is a solid 10 and truly lives up to the musical.
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585, 600 Minutes Long...
jkluvschachi26 November 2005
"Rent" opened on Broadway my freshman year of college. I am a part of the generation that claimed the piece as our own. Although in recent years I've scoffed at it for being passé, and wondering why people were still going to see it since it was so terribly dated.

However, I was excited about the release of the movie. I was very disappointed. I wasn't sure if it would make a good movie in the first place, and watching it I became convinced it could, it just wasn't this movie. The casting is terrible. Granted, it's better to bring the original cast back than to use big names like Justin Timberlake and Christina Aguilera, and the performances are solid. The actors are just too old. This is a generational piece. It's about people of a specific age group, and all of the actors were about twelve years too old.

Columbus' direction was uninspired and unimaginative. Every number looked exactly the same. If people weren't singing and dancing on a table, they were singing and dancing up the street (usually holding hands). I understand the desire to capture the grittiness of the environment, but there's a way to do that with style, and in a way that doesn't look like a Bon Jovi music video. It was painfully obvious that Columbus didn't trust the piece to be the piece. Cutting the music from the recitative but having the actors speak the lyrics was a terrible mistake. It made the screenplay sound like it was written by Dr. Seuss. The first act ran way too long, the second act was eviscerated because the first half of the movie was so dreadfully paced, and I wanted to leave the film the whole time. I hate to say it, but don't see it.
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This film really touched me
AlsExGal24 April 2015
I am very surprised at some of the negative reviews for this film. I never saw the Broadway musical on which the movie was based, so I don't have the advantage of having the live performance to compare to the movie. I have to say that the film really touched me, and I generally haven't liked most of the recent musical films that I've seen. All of the songs in Rent have heavy and deep meanings behind them since there's hardly any spoken dialogue. This means that Rent moves forward on the strength of its songs. Each number furthers the plot and reveals another aspect of a character.

Playwright Jonathan Larson was an amazing human being with such a talent for - at the time he wrote it back in the early 90's - being so "out there" and taking the risk of writing about AIDS and homosexuality, and ultimately having his work find its way into the hearts of so many people. If you wrote an actual script in which the young author of such a wildly successful Pulitzer winning musical dies the night after its dress rehearsal after being misdiagnosed by two different hospitals, nobody would believe you, but that is exactly what happened. It is also a shame that the actual reality of life in Alphabet City (now very much gentrified) and the nature of the AIDS crisis and treatments have changed so much that many people might not consider this film's greatness because they will regard it as out of date. I guess I just found the movie to be brilliant because it wasn't supposed to be absolutely realistic, it was supposed to evoke emotion, and that it did, at least for me. None of the individual relationships get that much screen time, yet I really cared deeply about all of these characters, both as a group and individually.

You could really feel the urgency of time pressing on the characters that had AIDS - the urgency to create, the urgency to love, - since, in 1990, there were not a lot of therapies that effectively prevented HIV from turning into full blown AIDS as there are today. Also, if you are not moved by Collins' tribute to Angel in the reprise performance of "I'll Cover You", all I can say is that you have no soul. Jesse Martin does a splendid job of displaying a genuine sense of loss, grief, and love that is the best performance in the entire movie.

Rent is one of those few films that I like to watch over and over just to see if I have missed anything. It does seem like some of the movie's detractors are being a bit snobby about the fact that Chris Columbus, who is well known for directing family films, directed this movie. Unfortunately, Bob Fosse is no longer with us, because I have found myself wondering more than once what he would have done with this material.
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i saw the movie rent
danielblatt200112 November 2005
I admit, I liked the stage show but it had huge flaws. The movie fixed all the flaws and improved on all the characters' motivations. Especially Mimi.

I loved the movie. Columbus did a fabulous job as did Steve Chbosky, the screenwriter who fixed all the structure problems the show had and made you love these characters even more. I never felt emotionally connected to the characters when seeing it on stage, as a movie, I was with each of them the whole way. For all your doubters, give the movie a chance, I think you'll be surprised.

See the movie!
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Insulting, inhuman, and awful
ekaun11 December 2005
After seeing "Rent" I left the Loews theater with feelings of disappointment and regret; but as the film admonishes its audience to "forget regret," I found it fulfilling and ideologically consistent with the movie to switch to anger and resentment.

In spite of the lack of satisfaction, I did learn several things from Rent:

1. One needn't actually produce a work of Art (tm 2005, Rent Corporation) to be an Artist. Since all Life outside the Mainstream (tm) is Art, one need only record it (the medium and technique are irrelevant) and display it to have successfully avoided Selling Out.

2. Being Creative is better than being in the Mainstream, and the two are in fact mutually exclusive. Keeping It Real doesn't refer to the Mainstream.

3. Those in the Mainstream have surrendered Principle for a living death (because anything outside La Vie Boheme (tm) isn't living at all).

4. Intensity of emotion trumps its direction, effects, or meaning.

5. One needn't care enough about someone to change dangerous and/or hurtful behavior in any way, as long as one is Living outside the Mainstream; the resulting effervescence of Creative Love will redeem you in spite of illness, poverty, and their impact on your loved ones.

6. Your loved ones would rather love you Super-Intensely for a period of months than love you In The Mainstream for a lifetime; your impending sickness and death will enable further heights of emotion, creating an unending spiral cycle of Intense Love for generations to come.

7. It is far better to live for a short time as a Creative Archetype than to live a long time in the Mainstream as a Mere Human.

8. A political protest need be neither political, nor a protest; it needn't be coherent as long as it's Creative, since those viewing the goings-on will either be In Tune or are The Living-Dead Corporate Enemy, in which case they are irredeemably evil despite their support for anyone in La Vie Boheme.

9. Annoying Relatives in the Mainstream are so awful that they must be shunned, whatever value they might contribute or pain they might alleviate in La Vie Boheme; though Poverty is the main problem in La Vie Boheme, no amount of it is sufficient to warrant such extreme measures as Reliance On Family.

10. Change is bad. There's no reason to change an artistically unproductive life, especially to something in the Mainstream, because if you're living La Vie Boheme, life is Art; artistic contributions are irrelevant.

11. The rest of the world does owe you a living, on your terms, whatever they are. There's nothing one need do to merit such consideration, other than living La Vie Boheme; the Mainstream exists purely to support La Vie Boheme, though despite this reliance, the Mainstream deserves only scorn, derision, and contempt.

A brief summary of the characters:

Angel was a free-spirited, creative, ephemeral soul with colorful, outlandish mannerisms and a buoyant outlook uniquely identical to EVERY OTHER DRAG QUEEN STEREOTYPE EVER ON CELLULOID. See Priscilla Queen of the Desert for rich counterexamples.

Tom Collins was sensitive because he got beat up, smiled a lot at Angel, and is also brilliantly quirky because he stole from an ATM he re-wired, theft being so much more fulfilling than any larger sums derived from engineering jobs in the Mainstream.

Roger was a soulful Bon Jovi-ish artist minus the artistry and the soul. He at least contributed the worst song of the movie to resurrect his she's-not-quite-dead-yet love.

Mimi exhibited a deft and precise bikini-wax during her dance solo, and covered with sweat during her cold-turkey drug withdrawal, verged on the Fiona Apple-esquire.

Maureen contributed a delightful ass-shot, the spiritual zenith of the film. At that moment I wanted to go down on my knees and pray.

Joanne was a control freak - we know she was, because Maureen sang so. Somehow, despite Mainstream mannerisms and a Mainstream job, she was Bohemian, because the others wanted her to be.

Mark was the geeky filmmaker who decided to eschew Structure in favor of Passion. He completed his film (made by riding around on a bike, filming things) after quitting his horrific but seductive Mainstream job (driving around in a van, filming things). Evidently, the only obstacle to completing his film was developing raw unedited footage and shoving it on a projector reel.

Rent did have some good tunes and musical performances, like nice paintings afloat on a sea of lightweight bile.

Some things to which the word "Rent" applies:

  • my soul after seeing the film

  • my day after seeing the film

  • my wallet after seeing the film

  • what writing "Rent" earned plenty of for the creators

  • what those who go see "Rent" often need to pay the old-fashioned way, in the Mainstream
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This is not your father's "La Boheme"
lasciata25 November 2005
Any coincidence between this apocalyptic version of Puccini's "La Boheme" and the original is purely a stratagem of the producers, attempting to bootstrap an agonizingly bad production on the fame of a classic.

Puccini wrote music; Jonathan Larson wrote screams. Puccini's librettists conceived an actual story that has transcended generational and societal boundaries; Larson's book will appeal principally to cross-dressing, drug-addicted failures on the lower east side of Manhattan who believe that having rent-free accommodations in one of the world's most expensive cities is a matter of right.

What should have been, and what is promoted as being, a synthesis of "Angels in America" and "Hair" sadly turns out to be little more than an overly long, boring story of some wingless, bald, sexually-confused people. And they yell a lot. For a long, long time.
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So Much There, So Much Missed...
landress5 December 2007
The direction and working of this film were mediocre, and that may be kind. However, they were truly blessed to work with one of the best scripts that Broadway has ever seen and some of the most artistic compositions to cross the Great White Way. You'll see in this review that the story and acting were both good, but in the end enough was missing to take it from a sure-fire Oscar winner to another also-ran that was barely worth mentioning.

Jonathan Larson's script and compositions are there among the best and he gives us a story that is so moving that it would be hard to mess it up. The movie focuses on a group of friends, mostly from the viewpoint of Mark Cohen (Anthony Rapp), a man giving up a nice life to live in New York and find himself as a filmmaker. He lives with a songwriter/singer named Roger (Adam Pascal) who wants to put out one great song as he is dealing with AIDS. Also entering the picture is Mark's ex-girlfriend/activist Maureen (Idina Menzel) and her new girlfriend Joanne (Tracie Thoms). Mark and Roger meet a woman who lives in their building, Mimi Marquez (Rosario Dawson), who is dealing with AIDS and a drug problem while working at a strip club to make whatever money she can. Lastly are two former roommates of Mark and Roger. Benjamin Coffin III(Taye Diggs) is a man who gave up the Bohemian ideal to try to create a film studio after marrying into wealth. Thomas Collins (Jesse L. Martin) has gone off to study/teach and returns to meet a companion of his own, Angel (Wilson Jermaine Heredia). Mildly confusing, no? The story focuses on one year of their life, from Christmas to Christmas and what happens within that year. There are problems relating to AIDS, death, drugs, money issues, and a few love stories thrown in along the way. While it sounds like a long way to go for this, it is truly worth the ride.

Most of the movie cast are simply reprising the roles that the created on Broadway. Only Tracie Thoms, subbing in for Fredi Walker, and Rosario Dawson, replacing Daphne Rubin-Vega, were not in the original Broadway cast. While the idea of bringing the Broadway cast with them from the show eased a lot of doubts about the movie, it also created a problem. The story is supposed to be focusing on a group of young men and women, in their early-to-mid 20s from what is being said in the movie (including the character of Mimi being 19 when we meet her). The problem is that these actors no longer look that age. That is only a mild detraction from the film.

In fact, a lot of the acting is quite good. Despite not being in the original cast, Tracie Thoms is fantastic in her role and made you want to follow her character even when she was just in the background. Idina Menzel was quite good, although no longer truly seemed to fit the part in my eye. Anthony Rapp and Adam Pascal know these characters inside and out and had no problem bringing that character back to life for the screen. Jesse L. Martin was very good, although the age factor seemed more noticeable with him than with any other character in the movie. Wilson Jermaine Heredia makes you entirely forget that he is a man in the movie and wraps himself around this character that he created. Finally, Rosario Dawson does an apt job as Mimi Marquez. She didn't seem to take a lot of risks, whether it was acting or vocally, but conveyed more than enough to complete the role.

As I mentioned above, the problem lies very much in the directing of the film. Chris Columbus is a fine director, showcasing his eye in films like some of the Home Alones, Harry Potters, and the movie Only the Lonely. However, it feels too often like he is shooting a sequence of music videos rather than a film. This is never more prevalent than in his handling of the song "What You Own". The song is somewhat of an indictment on modern culture, somewhat of an escape song, a very nice piece. In the movie it has been turned into a roadtrip song, turning one of the only weaknesses in the script (a segment where a character leaves then quickly comes back) into almost a rock video.

As I said, the material here is fantastic. With a better vision of the film, this could have been an Oscar contender easily. However, that is what separates the great from the good, and while this movie has moments of greatness, its not enough to overcome the partial mediocrity. 7/10
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Rent is RENT
ClaytonDavis19 May 2006
I will try to perform this review as unbiased as I can because I'm a huge Rent fan. Chris Columbus which is best known for films such as "Stepmom,""Mrs. Doubtfire" and "Home Alone" has failed in the task of bringing the very famous adaptation of the Broadway hit to the big screen. I think the problem with the film was the vision that Columbus had for it. There were just too many things missing from the musical: one obviously being some songs that kept the story moving freshly. But don't get me wrong, he did a great job on some aspects: the number one reason was not hiding the fact that this was a musical. The songs were fantastic and have always been, and on the big screen to see them redone was truly a special treat.

One other problem was the art direction; the film was shot in San Francisco and never did I feel they were in the Village, NY. Maybe seeing something familiar would keep me in the scene but I kept looking for that one landmark but couldn't locate it. The editing was very good which included lips in sync with words and songs unlike a little film called The Phantom of the Opera. So at least I felt like they were singing the entire time. But enough with the negativity, I'll name some stuff I liked.

Rosario Dawson, oh my god! Who'd thought she had in her to pull it off. Girl can sing and she got some moves. Her acting wasn't even half-bad, she was a surprise and a special treat for the film. Being one of the two unoriginal cast members placed a lot of pressure on her but she stepped up to the plate and hit a nice double. I will be expecting to see her in the Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy category at the Globes. Like everyone is talking, the lead actress is so weak we could even see her getting in at Oscars but I don't think they'll allow that. Might as well just go with Zellweger at that point.

The rest of the cast is great, ranging from the very funny Idina Menzel whom I had in my supporting actress predictions for the past eight months but reviews are way too mixed for her. Menzel is an up and coming actress and we will see her at Oscars one day soon. (cough cough "Ask the Dust") Adam Pascal and Anthony Rapp are great co-leads as Mark and Roger along with Tony award winner Wilson Heredia bringing in a great performance as Angel and Taye Diggs as Benny who has a great set of pipes in him. The "Rent" boys just don't have the energy nor the fire in them to go to Oscars with these misdirected performances. Tracie Thoms, the other unoriginal cast member, was a good addition but acting is a little on the flat side. We'll wait to see other stuff from her.

Well, I guess we're waiting to know who the standout is…It is no less than the magnificent Jesse L. Martin who is best known as Detective Ed Green on "Law and Order." This man does not only have a great set of chords on him but he brings you deep into his world and holds you tight there. You feel everything for this man. From his fight with AIDS to his fight with death and loss, you can't help but want to just give him a hug. I'd love to see him as a nominee but I'll be realistic, that unknown name in a mediocre film just won't cut it. I'm sure he'll be a nominee of mine when my best of the year are put together.

I really wanted to love "Rent" but I couldn't keep my heart in it. There was too much standing around and not enough throwing yourself into your character. "Rent" is over 12 years old and these characters are supposed to be in the early 20s and they might not have had the early 20 flavor to grasp their characters anymore. I respect the film for what it was but if you've never seen the show you probably won't like the film that much. Musicals just aren't safe bets at Oscars anymore.
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Broadway On Film, Again
reuven65-15 May 2006
There is no replacement, alternative or better place to see a Broadway musical than in, where else? Broadway...Nowadays however, some of Broadway's best are also being made for the silver screen and are surprisingly well done.

If you've already seen "Rent" on Broadway and want to see it on film, I strongly suggest you go for it. If you haven't seen it, it may seem to be corny or "hokey" in a few places but get past that because behind it are a set of story lines that will grab you by the library of your literary innards and hold them attentively until the credits roll.

Jesse L. Martin, known on the small screen for his role Detective Ed Green since 1999, is one of the stars who will send auditory shockwaves your way with his beautiful voice. I had no idea he could sing and oh yes! He can definitely sing.

The lyrics throughout the production are unforgettable and must be listened to. This segment of, "Seasons of Love" sets the theme for the movie and rings true for us all.

"It's time now to sing out, Tho' the story never ends Let's celebrate Remember a year in the life of friends Remember the love! Remember the love! Seasons of love!"

In closing, you'll laugh, cry, cheer, sing, laugh and if you haven't done all of these, see it again because you missed something. This is definitely a rock opera of an era we will be talking about for a long time to come.
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Disappointing at Best
travka7929 November 2005
I really wanted to like this film. When learning that Chris Columbus was going to direct the play, I knew inherently the movie could not be as good as the play. The movie was unimaginative, boring, and forced. And while I liked the idea of casting the original members, they seemed too old for the parts, and even their voices seemed aged as compared to the original cast recording. Their voices lacked that youthful spunk I remember when first watching Rent in college. The musical score was changed and did not do the original score justice. Poor Jonathan. While Chris tried to portray New York's raw and gritty environment which came out (sort of), the cast members/directing made each character stand out from their surroundings rather than being a part of the community that Jonathan was trying to portray. Where were all the other drag queens? The other drug abusers? The other artists for god sake? Chris should be ashamed of himself. As a rock opera I think everything should have been sung like the play. Turning it into dialog made it laughable. And what is up with the side commitment ceremony scene between Joann and Maureen? That was just plain crap. I will say though that the message was there and anyone who sees the movie will come away with the message of peace and love no matter who you are or your situation. But as far as artistic value, it lacked depth and I only have the writer and director to blame.
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Why Does It Seem So Much Whinier Than It Did on Stage?
evanston_dad29 November 2005
They waited too long to adapt "Rent" to the screen, and as a result Chris Columbus's film seems dated and irrelevant. A bunch of 30 something's (perhaps it was unwise to use the original, now too old, cast members) complaining about having to pay their rent, refusing to work for a living and spouting sanctimonious crap about how much the artistic life is better than the corporate one (though not one of them has ever had a corporate job, so how would they know?) is just too much for this 30-year-old (who doesn't have a choice about not working in order to pay for a mortgage) to take.

On stage, "Rent" was fresh and exhilarating. It was about the freedom to be whatever you choose to be and a celebration of art of all kinds. It didn't feel preachy, condescending or smug. It took place in an artificial world and a hefty dose of melodrama and unlikely plot contrivances were easier to accept given the fact that it was 1.) a piece of theatre and so by necessity an illusion to begin with and 2.) based on an opera where melodramatics are readily accepted. In bringing the musical to the film, and adding an ill-fitting realistic structure to the material, much gets lost in the translation. The plot contrivances are not easy to overlook, and everything feels arbitrary (let's see, who's sleeping with who now?) The music still sounds great and the cast does have a lot of chemistry. Wilson Jermaine Heredia and Idina Menzel are the two original cast members who make the easiest jump to the big screen. Adam Pascal looks lost and Jesse L. Martin mugs too much. Of the newcomers, Tracie Thoms is the best addition as Joanne. Rosario Dawson is fine in the role of Mimi, but that character doesn't seem like much of a character on screen. And Taye Diggs' role is nearly written out of the film.

Really, to be honest, none of the characters is much more than a type, easily summarized in a sentence. This was true of the stage version as well, but there the music was allowed to define the characters. On screen, Columbus must come up with things for the actors to do and images for the audience to look at, and he comes up with nothing memorable.

Not every single play, book or musical needs to be made into a film, and I wish producers would figure that out. I love movies, but I love movies when they're cinematic or tell a story in a way that could only be told via the medium of film. I'm all for people who don't have access to "Rent" in its stage version being able to see it, but perhaps a filmed version of the stage production would have been a better way to go. This film will make people who don't already know the material wonder what all the fuss is about.

Grade: B-
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