I understand the hatred for romantic comedies. I really, truly do. There’s a certain formula to them that becomes tiresome, the underlying message behind so many of them tends to be obnoxiously and cynically shallow and often misogynistic, and anytime a movie successfully combines comedy and romance it seems to be somehow removed from our perception of the genre, probably unfairly. It’s as if the label is specifically meant to designate a certain type of movie, a label restricted to dreck.
Movie musicals are a different class of cinema, even though to an extent I can relate to its detractors as well. Musicals are uncool. They are almost proud of how uncool they are, regularly taking their style completely over the top. It’s a movie genre that has some of the strongest ties to the theater, and so many cinematic subtleties we’ve come to appreciate are either upstaged by the song and dance and spectacle, or absent altogether.
Coolness has been a dominating factor of the appeal of movies for the past generation or two, to the point where it’s hard to imagine those cheesy musicals from the 1960s ever being enjoyed by anyone with a functional mind. And I’m a big defender of coolness in film. But there are also limitations to what coolness can accomplish, and it’s in some of these areas that musicals can express feelings and ideas and entertain in ways that other genres can’t.
So on that note, here are 6 points to defend the movie musical as a special genre that deserves greater respect.