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    16 Changes Movie Adaptations Of Musicals Always Make That Are Just Flat-Out Annoying

    Still can't believe Cats even got made.

    I absolutely love musicals, so I always get really excited whenever one is turned into a film.

    20th Century Fox

    But almost every time, they manage to mess something up...usually, a LOT of stuff up. Here are 16 things that always annoy me that I wish movie adaptations of musicals would stop doing!

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    1. Adding songs:

    Valjean singing "Something is still unclear. Something not yet here has begun" as he strokes Cosette's hair and she sleeps in his lap
    Universal Pictures

    Let's be honest, we all skip "Suddenly" on the Les Misérables soundtrack. And...look, I love Zefron as much as the next girl, but "Ladies Choice" is nowhere close to my favorite song on the Hairpsray soundtrack.

    2. And on that note...replacing perfectly good songs with new ones:

    The Beast singing "Now I know she'll never leave me, even as she runs away" in Beauty and the Beast
    Disney

    Allow me to rant about the live-action Beauty and the Beast for a moment — I'm sorry, but the only "Evermore" I acknowledge is the one by Miss Taylor Swift. The Beast had MULTIPLE great songs in the Broadway musical, including "How Long Must This Go On?" and "If I Can't Love Her" and its reprise. Why write an entirely new song?? I know the movie is more an adaptation of the animated musical than the Broadway show, but still! I'm sure it took time and money to write a new song! And for what?

    3. And cutting climactic songs:

    In Rent, Roger sings "you pretend to create and observe when you really detach from feeling alive" and Mark replies "Perhaps it's because I'm the one of us to survive"
    Sony Pictures Releasing

    I understand that you often have to cut songs from movies because there are simply too many. That's okay. But...don't cut a major climactic song. I still consider it a CRIME to this day that Rent cut the majority of "Goodbye Love," which provided major catharsis and was a huge character moment for Roger and Mark.

    4. Releasing soundtracks without all the songs:

    Spotify track list of 13 songs for Phantom of the Opera
    Spotify

    Why did Les Misérables release an entire soundtrack with only like half the songs? And can you imagine...a version of Phantom of the Opera...with only 13 songs...?

    5. Changing the entire context of a song:

    Link singing "Without love, life is rock n' roll without a drummer" to Tracy's picture in Hairpsray
    New Line Cinema

    I will NEVER be over the fact that the Hairspray movie changed "Without Love" so that Link was singing to Tracy's photo instead of Tracy herself. This change was made to adjust for the fact that Tracy wasn't arrested, I guess (but wouldn't that have made it even easier to have Link and Tracy sing together in person?). But it also messed with some of the lyrics of the song, which means whenever the movie version of the song comes on, I sing the wrong lyrics, and for that alone I am angry.

    6. Eliminating characters:

    the Baker and his wife and the witch in into the Woods
    Peter Mountain/Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection

    I know Into the Woods had a lot of characters, but it still feels like they reduced or erased a lot in the film in favor of focusing on some of the stars.

    7. And small plot points:

    Tracy hits an officer with her sign in Hairspray, shouting "Excuse me! She was talking to you!" and the officer says she just assaulted a police officer and that they're going to take them all in. Tracy runs away
    New Line Cinema

    In the Hairspray musical, Tracy is arrested just for protesting. In the movie, she actually hits a cop with her sign. While it's obviously not meant to hurt him, she technically is "assaulting an officer." This A) makes the arrest of everyone else more frustrating, because you can kind of blame it on Tracy/her thinking she has immunity as a white girl (which is especially frustrating because she runs away, leaving the mostly Black protestors to face the punishment for her actions) and B) waters down the message of racist cops who don't even need an excuse to break up a protest. And THEN, no one even seems to get arrested (unlike the play, in which almost the entire cast is arrested), which again waters down the message of racist police.

    8. And adding random new plotlines:

    The Genie gives Dalia flowers, which she accepts
    Disney

    Did the Genie really need a love interest in the live-action Aladdin? I feel like his story was so much more about freedom than love — in fact, one thing I love about Aladdin is that although it is a love story, none of the characters set out to find love. In a way, they're all looking for freedom — so this subplot just didn't land for me.

    9. Casting stars instead of people who can actually sing:

    Sam in Mamma Mia!, Javert in Les Mis, and the Phantom in Phantom of the Opera
    Universal / courtesy Everett Collection, Laurie Sparham/©Universal Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection, Warner Brothers / courtesy Everett Collection

    There are SO many examples of this. I'm not trying to be mean (sorry to these men) — I honestly really like these actors and think they did a decent job, because in the end it really is more about the acting. BUT...there are SO many amazing singers AND actors out there who aren't as famous who could've been cast. That's not to say don't cast celebs — Beyoncé, Jennifer Hudson, and Jamie Foxx were all amazing in Dreamgirls! Just make sure they can sing!

    10. And along those lines, casting stars instead of people who can actually dance:

    Judi Dench in Cats
    Universal Pictures / courtesy Everett Collection

    Cats is basically a glorified dance recital with fancy costumes and nonsensical music — the dancing is the #1 draw. So someone tell me why they cast James Corden, Taylor Swift, Idris Elba, Judi Dench, etc. instead of professional dancers.

    11. Casting actors who are way too old:

    Ben Platt in Dear Evan Hansen
    Theo Wargo / Getty Images for Tony Awards Productions)

    Broadway can get away with this because we can't really see them up close. But...as much as I love you, Ben Platt, you simply cannot pass for 17-year-old Evan Hansen onscreen for this upcoming Dear Evan Hansen adaptation. I know the movie's not out yet, but why didn't they cast one of the other amazing Evan actors?

    12. Only casting white actors:

    Donna and her two friends in Mamma Mia!
    Universal / courtesy Everett Collection

    Another thing Broadway shows are more flexible on is race. Revivals of shows like Phantom and Les Mis have become much more diverse, even if the characters are white in the source material/historical context. Unfortunately, films often go back to casting white characters to play these parts. Your response to this may be "film is a more accurate and less speculative medium," but hey, that didn't stop Les Mis from casting a bunch of people with bad British accents in a play set in France. And if the play isn't historically about a group of people who were likely white (like, say, 1800s opera attendees), then there is literally no reason not to have a diverse cast. Like, why the hell was everyone in Into the Woods white? And almost everyone in Mamma Mia!

    13. Giving characters a "happily ever after" that they didn't get in the musical:

    Peter Mountain/Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures / courtesy Everett Collection, Warner Bros.

    The stage play of Into the Woods is darker than the film, featuring both Cinderella and Rapunzel's princes being unfaithful (and ending up with the princesses with which they had their affairs) and Rapunzel being trampled to death. Similarly, Little Shop of Horrors changed the super dark (but fitting) ending of the musical after test audiences reacted badly, letting Audrey and Seymour live (mostly) happily ever after. But the best part of these stories was how dark they were!! Slapping on a happy ending felt cheap.

    14. Replacing costuming with CGI:

    Universal Pictures / courtesy Everett Collection, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures / courtesy Everett Collection

    Part of the magic of productions is costuming, sets, and makeup — especially when it comes to productions with non-human characters, like Cats and The Lion King. The point isn't to look realistic — it's to show us the spectacle that theater can be. Honestly, these shows just shouldn't be adapted to live-action, because CGI is ALWAYS going to take that spectacle away, as well as some of the human emotion of the actors, even if it's good CGI (which...these films weren't).

    15. This should be a given, but...actively going against the wishes of the creator:

    Stacee Jaxx and Dennis in Rock of Ages
    David James/Warner Bros. Pictures / courtesy Everett Collection

    Chris D'Arienzo, the writer of the Rock of Ages musical and the original writer-director for the film, was fired from the film, and said of the parts he had seen: "There feels like an underlying disdain — or at best, dismissive sense — of the era and the music." He also claimed that Adam Shankman, who took over directing, didn't like the stage show. And...well, the proof is in the pudding in this one. If the creator of the musical is pushed out from the movie and calls it bad, that's a pretty big mistake.

    16. And finally...delaying them for a decade.

    Glinda and Elphaba from Wicked performing onstage
    Tyler Essary / NBC / NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

    Look, it may sound like I have a lot of issues with movie musicals, and I do. But the worst thing of all? Not making them at all (with the exception of animal-based plays like Cats and The Lion King). When are we getting Wicked??!

    What bothers you about musical-to-movie adaptations? Let me know in the comments!

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