January 11, 2007



Um, DREAMGIRLS like totally sucks, okay? And it's not even the crotch-dampening, awesome musical find of 2006 that critics want you to believe it is. This isn't my opinion, it's science. Because I've seen the best musical out of 2006, COLMA: THE MUSICAL. Rough as sandpaper, shot on video, occasionally clunky, a bit too long, so low budget it's through the floor, this is still the best musical of last year and when I finally have a real top ten list from last year (give me another month or two) it's definitely going to be on there. Which I'm sure will be a very exciting moment for the director.

A small slice of post-high school malaise about three kids living in the San Francisco suburb of Colma, which has a higher population of residents buried in the local cemetary than there are roaming the streets, this flick has won a bunch of indie fest awards and it's as long on attitude as it is short on plot. Three friends - Billy, Rodel and Maribel - are hanging out, filling dead end job positions, crashing college parties, buying fake IDs and generally taking up space and trying to figure out what to do with their lives.

There's bad news in the plot department which wears out its welcome and gets too draggy in the second half, and the score is way too synthesizer heavy. But the good news is that this is a movie that actually feels like something that's worth your while. The film's discovery is H.P. Mendoza, who plays Rodel, wrote the music and lyrics, and the script. He's the closest I've heard to Cole Porter or Stephin Merritt - a gifted lyricist with an ear for a turn of phrase and the ability to write a song that's specific in the details but anyone can relate to it.

There's a song scored for a car alarm, a Hulk Hogan look-a-like singing an ode to love that begins:

The ancients say that cupid shot his arrows through the air
Indiscriminately just shooting his arrows everywhere
If I saw an infant with wings just randomly dealing death about
Well I'd kick that baby's ass
Then tear his wings right out

This isn't a perfect movie, the flaws almost balance the virtues, but it's a fresh, funny, unexpected flick that makes almost every musical out from Hollywood in the last few years (and let's throw in Bollywood's output as well) look like lead-footed dinosaurs. And I shut off the DVD humming the songs, and that's something I haven't done in a long time.

You can buy the soundtrack here.
You can read more about H.P. Mendoza here.

If you want to check out the album here's what I recommend:
"Colma Stays" the 4:39 version (not the reprise) for full-on cleverness assault.
"Things Will Get Better" for emo fist-pumping.
"One Day (Part One)" for the most annoying car alarm accompaniment ever.
"Goodbye Stupid" for the lyrics
"Crazy Like Me" for total teenaged mope rock majesty.

You can watch the trailer below: (which gives you a pretty good idea of its flaws).

January 11, 2007 at 08:29 AM in Film Reviews | Permalink


Did you really not like Dreamgirls?

I would've bet that you of all people would be screaming like a little girl that just saw her daddy get decapitated by an ice cream truck for Jennifer Hudson to belt out an encore.


Posted by: Simon Abrams | Jan 11, 2007 10:04:28 AM

Not to be combative, but I thought DREAMGIRLS was shoddy, poorly directed, badly edited and about as exciting as an embalmed corpse.

Posted by: Grady Hendrix | Jan 11, 2007 10:14:09 AM

There are actually 17 cemetaries in the town of Colma, California. Got many a relative buried there. Someday I might be pushing up daisies there too. Ugh.

Posted by: gurl | Jan 11, 2007 11:11:40 AM

Why would I want to fight about it?

I enjoyed it but you didn't.

So what.

I just was curious.

Posted by: Simon Abrams | Jan 11, 2007 5:03:51 PM

COLMA can't be worse than IDLEWILD can it? That one didn't even have one good song in it. Please assure me there are no dream sequences in this one. (BTW, the last great original movie musical to come out of Hollywood was...Madonna's TRUTH OR DARE.)

Posted by: Brian C. | Jan 12, 2007 3:51:28 PM

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