Tuesday, 12 May 2009

No. 125 : West Side Story

Here’s possibly the most successful ‘W’ film of all, a winner of 10 Oscars including Best Picture as well as a healthy box office take. Doesn’t mean it’ll appeal to everyone though and I for one thought it was a dreadful way to spend two and a half hours. In truth I watched an hour and then skipped through to the end. When they drummed up for yet another round of ‘Tonight’ I decided that was enough for me.

The film tells the tale of Romeo and Juliet with the action transported to New York’s West Side. The white Jets and Puerto Rican Sharks fight an ongoing tough war that involves paint, rotten vegetables and lots of high kicking, ballet style. The film lasts an age despite it’s thin plot as every scene is dragged on forever with a full 10 minutes elapsing before anything of note is said.

The gangs seem to be forever destined to be at loggerheads after a get to know you dance hosted by Gomez Addams goes predictable wrong. There is hope however when a Jets boy falls for a Sharks girl, the oft sung about Maria. Obviously the brothers of the girl don’t like the romance and further dance heavy confrontations follow. As the film nears its weary climax we worry that it’ll take a tragedy to show the youths the error of their ways.

I’m not against musicals as such and regard films like ‘The Rocky Horror Picture Show’ and ‘The Blues Brothers’ as firm favourites. What these have that West Side Story lacks is a bit of edge and humour. What we have here is a bunch of dancers prancing around trying, and failing, to look tough. They burst into song at every moment with most of them sounding like random words from a script rather than a carefully crafted ditty. There are exceptions of course with ‘America’ and ‘I Feel Pretty’ at least memorable if hardly iPod material.

The cast certainly don’t convince with Natalie Wood the least believable Puerto Rican I could imagine. Her lover Tony , who has left the Jets, tries to shake off the legacy and re-educate his pals but alas his plans to meddle in the rumble signal the ending from a long way off.

Obviously I’m not the target audience and I’m sure John Barrowman and my Mum would love an afternoon in watching this, but I honestly fail to see the appeal. Men in tight pants jumping around and yelling a lot of rubbish is all well and good if you like that sort of thing but I don’t.

Best Bit : Na na na na na America
‘W’ Rating : 7/23

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