RENT Add To My Top 10

Singing About Depravity in Bohemia

Content -4
Quality
None Light Moderate Heavy
Language        
Violence        
Sex        
Nudity        

Release Date: November 23, 2005

Starring: Rosario Dawson, Taye Diggs, Jesse L. Martin, Adam Pascal, and Anthony Rapp

Genre: Musical Drama

Audience: Older teenagers and adults

Rating: PG-13 for mature thematic
material involving drugs and
sexuality, and for some strong
language

Runtime: 129 minutes

Address Comments To:

Michael Lynton, Chairman/CEO
Amy Pascal, Chairman - Motion Picture Group
Sony Pictures Entertainment
(Columbia Pictures/TriStar)
10202 West Washington Blvd.
Culver City, CA 90232-3195
Phone: (310) 244-4000
Fax: (310) 244-2626
Web Page: www.spe.sony.com/

Content:

(RoRoRo, PCPCPC, HoHoHo, ACapACap, AbAb, C, LL, V, SS, N, AA, DDD, MM) Very strong Romantic worldview that blames society’s morality and organization for the unhappiness of some individuals, very strong politically correct effort to normalize homosexuality and transsexuals, strong anti-capitalist message, implied criticism of Judeo-Christian society, plus a funeral takes place in church; 11 obscenities, including two ‘f’ words, and five profanities; mugging and beating, and a crowd riot; women kiss, men kiss, woman and man kiss, one character is a stripper who performs two suggestive routines, and brief but specific sexual discussion; brief rear female nudity when woman moons restaurant, and stripper dances in thong underwear; frequent alcohol use; heroin abuse, drug dealing, and smoking; and, lovers cheat on each other, breaking and entering, and general disrespect for law and authority.

Summary:

RENT, based on the popular Broadway musical, is set in New York City’s East Village. It features an ensemble cast of eight characters, at least four of which have contracted AIDS. Inconsistent and phony, RENT is a silly mess with a politically correct, Romantic, pro-homosexual worldview that blames capitalist, Judeo-Christian society for people's unhappiness.

Review:

RENT was a Broadway phenomenon in the late 90s and is just now making its way to the movie theater. The adaptation retains the over-the-top gusto of a Broadway musical, along with a curiously dated political message and some unabashed sentimentality.

RENT is set in New York City’s East Village and features an ensemble cast of eight, at least four of which have contracted AIDS. The plot is episodic, so instead of one story, many snippets are shown. Thus, a professor finds love with a transvestite, a stripper weans herself off drugs only to relapse, a wannabe musician battles his instincts and pairs up with a heroin junkie, AIDS victims swallow their insecurities and attend a support group, apartment tenants refuse to pay their rent on quasi-ethical grounds, and the group attends an otherworldly performance art show. Remember that this is a musical, so when the college professor falls in love, his waifish transvestite named Angel dresses in a “sexy Santa” costume and does an aerobatic dance around the apartment while tapping her drumsticks on tables and overhead pipes. What’s remarkable is that we are not exaggerating a thing.

The unifying thread is that these characters are looking for love despite their histories and insecurities. They come to recognize that they should put their energy into loving each other instead of worrying about making "the right decision." Of course, this is a clear example of Romantic thinking, which values the heart over the head. “Forget regret or life is yours to miss. . . [There is] no day but today!” goes the song that acts as the movie’s tagline. The movie's Romanticism also blames Judeo-Christian, capitalist society’s morality and organization for the unhappiness of some individuals. This is another hallmark of Romantic philosophy, which was created by French philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau and others. It’s this kind of errant thinking that supports people in doing whatever they feel like rather than obeying God.

The message of “No day but today” is intended to make RENT universal. There is something perverse, however, not to mention out of touch, about asking a broad American audience to relate to these characters. How does the audience in Texas feel about a career-unemployed man in his 30s whose most important decision is whether or not to date the heroin-addicted stripper? What does Idaho think of the song that gleefully praises, “To yoga, to yogurt. . . To leather, to dildos. . . Bisexuals, trisexuals, homo sapiens, carcinogens, hallucinogens”? Does Florida see itself in the performance art exhibition during which a woman moos like a cow to indict capitalism, then the crowd gets so excited about mooing along that a riot breaks out?

Only a handful of people relate to any of this, yet the stage version is nationally popular, especially among teenage girls. RENT snares that crowd with two tactics. It romanticizes New York, calling what happens in the Village “real life” and dismissing the rest of the country as suburban, bourgeois fakery; and, it taps into basic teenage rebellion. It becomes part of a lie perpetrated by the media, that this life of “bisexuals, trisexuals, homo sapiens, carcinogens, hallucinogens” is somehow more authentic or simply more fun.

The only irony in the movie is an accidental one, then, because nothing about the world portrayed in RENT is authentic. True bohemians would scoff and roll their eyes about this cartoon version of bohemia. There is no use in parodying RENT, because it is so detached from reality that it is already a parody of itself. So few lines or situations ring true, and the list of logical inconsistencies is pages long.

Dedicated fans might argue that they can put the story aside and enjoy the spectacle of dancing and singing. The songs were unmemorable to me, but that’s merely a matter of opinion. The notion that RENT is a great work of art, however, is unacceptable. Only a devotee of musicals or musical theater could find a way to appreciate it, while a great work transcends fans of its genre and is appreciated by a wider audience. THE SOUND OF MUSIC, for instance, is a musical and also one of the most popular movies of all-time. Another good example is THE LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy, which comes from the specific genre of fantasy stories but appealed to millions upon millions of people.

Aside from the extreme philosophical problems, media-wise audiences will be turned off by RENT's sexual innuendo and discussion. Rather than being all-out offensive, RENT is frequently suggestive and just plain trashy. Depending on the studio’s marketing effort, hopefully people will stay away from RENT and demonstrate that material like this will not sell in America.

In Brief:

IN BRIEF:

RENT, based on the popular Broadway musical, is set in New York City’s East Village. It features an ensemble cast of eight characters, at least four of which have contracted AIDS. The plot is episodic, so instead of one story, snippets are shown. Thus, a professor finds love with a transvestite, a stripper weans herself off drugs only to relapse, a wannabe musician battles his instincts and pairs up with a heroin junkie, AIDS victims swallow their insecurities and attend a support group, apartment tenants refuse to pay their rent on quasi-ethical grounds, and the group attends an otherworldly performance art show. This is a musical, however, so when the college professor falls in love, his waifish transvestite dresses in a “sexy Santa” costume and does an aerobatic dance around the apartment while tapping her drumsticks on tables and overhead pipes.

Inconsistent and phony, RENT is a silly mess. Worse, it promotes a very strong Romantic worldview blames Judeo-Christian, capitalist society’s morality and organization for the unhappiness of some individuals, including homosexuals, bisexuals, transvestites, and drug addicts. Aside from the extreme philosophical problems, media-wise audiences will be turned off by RENT's sexual innuendo and discussion