"Without a Hurt, the Heart Is Hollow"
What You Need To Know:
Director Michael Ritchie takes a wistful approach to the story’s happy ending that lingers. It’s a feeling of nostalgia and yearning that’s summed up in the melancholy, provocative verse from the play’s signature song, “Try to Remember,” which says, “Without a hurt, the heart is hollow.” The landscape vistas in THE FANTASTICKS are easy on the eyes. The three performers involved in the lovers’ triangle, Joe McIntyre as Matt, Jean Louisa Kelly as Luisa and Jonathan Morris as a magician, have wonderful voices that complement the famous melodies, although McIntyre’s acting is not up to the level of Morris and Kelly’s. There’s only one bawdy scene that makes THE FANTASTICKS not quite family friendly. It’s a burlesque scene at the carnival where Matt encounters a clown who crudely leers while exposing some fake breasts.
(Ro, B, L, V, N, A, D, M) Romantic worldview with moral elements, including allusion to the Prodigal Son story in the New Testament; 2 mild obscenities & 3 mild exclamatory profanities; slapstick violence & men wrestle & battle with swords; no sex but prodigal son theme & allusions to lust of the eyes & rape; upper female nudity on stage prop while man gives a lascivious leer; alcohol use; man is drugged; and, fathers conspire to have man pretend to abduct young woman so that her lover can save her & become the hero in her eyes.
In 1995, MGM made a movie version of the popular stage musical, THE FANTASTICKS. A bad preview and contractual obligations, however, delayed the release of the movie until September of this year, when the movie is being released in only four cities before it goes to video. Obviously, the studio heads still lack confidence in this movie, although they shouldn’t.
Some theater fans, and FANTASTICKS fanatics, may not be completely enthralled with the way the play has been transferred to the big screen, but THE FANTASTICKS is a thoroughly enjoyable tale of fantasy and romance set in a magnificent rural landscape. Only one brief, bawdy scene breaks the spell of this movie’s many charms.
The movie version is set in a beautiful rural landscape in 1920s Arizona. In the tuneful story, Joel Grey plays Bellomy, the widowed father of Luisa (played by Jean Louisa Kelly). Luisa is engaged in a secret romance with Matt (Joe McIntyre), the boy next door. Their romance is secret because both their fathers are feuding, but when the two lovers leave for a secret rendezvous, the movie reveals that Bellomy and Matt’s father, Hucklebee (Brad Sullivan) have cooked up the whole feud. Bellomy and Hucklebee figure that, if Luisa and Matt think that their fathers want them to get together, the natural rebellion of children against their parents will force them apart. Bellomy and Hucklebee begin to worry, however, about how they’re going to end the feud. They enlist the aid of El Gallo (played by Jonathan Morris), the dashing magician of a carnival that’s stopped nearby to perform. That night, El Gallo fakes an abduction of Luisa, with Matt saving her just in the nick of time, but the romantic, though false, heroics lead to the boring light of day and, just as suddenly, the two lovers grow tired of one another. From there, the story takes a couple of profound twists until the obligatory happy ending.
Director Michael Ritchie (SMILE and DOWNHILL RACER) takes a wistful approach to the story’s happy ending that lingers long after the viewer leaves the theater. It’s a feeling of nostalgia and yearning that’s summed up in the melancholy, provocative verse from the play’s signature song, “Try to Remember,” which offers the notion, “Without a hurt, the heart is hollow.” Thus, the movie version of THE FANTASTICKS, and the play itself, argues that, unless someone endures heartbreak of some kind, they cannot really feel a deep and lasting love. The movie’s feeling of happiness tinged with melancholy and regret is re-enforced by the lovers’ last duet, the beautiful song, “They Were You.”
The landscape vistas in THE FANTASTICKS are easy on the eyes. They enhance the story as well as the movie’s theme of reality and fantasy bumping heads. The three performers involved in the lovers’ triangle, McIntyre as Matt, Kelly as Luisa and Morris as El Gallo, have wonderful voices that complement the movie’s famous ballads, although McIntyre’s acting is not quite up to the level of Morris and Kelly’s.
There’s only one bawdy scene that makes THE FANTASTICKS not quite family friendly. It’s a burlesque scene at the carnival where Matt encounters a clown who crudely leers while exposing some fake rubber female breasts. Although it fits a prodigal son subplot in the story, the nudity and the leer are really not necessary to convey this theme.