A Chorus Line Blu-ray Review
Step, pivot, step, touch, kick, step, pivot, turn, walk, step, pivot, touch, pivot, turn, kick, walk, step, walk, walk, walk, etc. etc. etc.
A CHORUS LINE opens with a rather sweaty and extensive number complete with bright neons, leg warmers, headbands, and all sorts of other things necessary to dance in the 1980s. The dancers are there to join the chorus line in stage director Zach’s (Michael Douglas, fresh off of the Golden Globe-winning ROMANCING THE STONE) newest musical and, with it, a shot at fame.
It’s a vigorous process, with each elimination leaving many to pack their bags and few to move on to the next round. It’s a diverse group of skilled dancers, who for some reason or the other feel the need to use up their time on stage to crack jokes and provide inane details to both Zach and the viewer (“I was born on a full moon…”). Hanging around backstage at the insistence of Zach’s assistant Larry (Terrence Mann, who appeared in the original Broadway casts for CATS, LES MISERABLES and more) is Cassie (Alyson Reed, who would later appear in Disney’s HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL movies), a former flame of Zach’s who is too talented to be merely a backup dancer. (The cast includes Gregg Burge, who would later choreograph Michael Jackson’s “Bad” video; Audrey Landers, who is most famous for portraying Afton Cooper on DALLAS; and Nicole Fosse, the daughter of Bob.)
A CHORUS LINE is based on the musical of the same name, which won Tony Awards for Best Musical, Best Book and Best Score (edging out the likes of CHICAGO in all three categories). Is this version faithful to the Broadway show? Well, if “I Can Do That” is just as hammy and the characters just as annoying and self-righteous in the musical as they are here, then perhaps director Richard Attenborough (who had previously helmed 1982’s GHANDI, for which he won the Best Director Oscar) made a perfect adaptation.
The movie is loaded with songs, including “I Hope I Get It,” “Dance: Ten; Looks: Three” and “One,” which no doubt helped make A CHORUS LINE one of the longest-running musicals in Broadway history. Fans of the soundtrack will tap and sing along and maybe even try out some of the choreography by Jeffrey Hornaday (1983’s FLASHDANCE), but they’ll be the only ones, as A CHORUS LINE never feels like it’s for those not already familiar with the music. To the outsider, the movie is incredibly tacky and obnoxious—there’s nothing remarkable about the recycled numbers and the sole original bit, “Surprise, Surprise,” relies so much on looped techno beats and splits that it plays out like a misguided workout video. (Despite—or perhaps because of—its presentation, “Surprise, Surprise” was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Song; it lost to Lionel Richie’s “Say You, Say Me” from WHITE NIGHTS.)
A CHORUS LINE has much prestige to it, but it is painfully boring, limited and thin, and certainly not the event it wants us to think it is. In the end, what’s so impressive about Marvin Hamlisch and Edward Kleben rehashing their work and Douglas yelling from the shadows?
A CHORUS LINE BLU-RAY REVIEW
Video: 2.35:1 in 1080p with MPEG-4 AVC codec. Although A CHORUS LINE is limited in its costumes and sets, this high-definition transfer brings out many details in both. Overall, the video on this MGM Blu-ray is clean, clear and certainly an upgrade from the DVD.
Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0. Subtitles in English, Spanish and French. Fans will absolutely love the audio transfer, which pumps much life into so many of the songs they love, from the solo numbers (“I Can Do That”) to those with the entire cast (“One”).
Original Theatrical Trailer