4 August 2004 | jbdean
Not Lost on the Right Audience
While the songs and dance numbers, in general, aren't as strong as many would have them be, the film's storyline and message are still there and ring out loudly above the simple 70s-style musical numbers.
Keeping in mind that this film was made after the Hollywood Musical had nearly died out (with few exceptions being rock musicals), the audiences that went to see it new didn't appreciate the fact that it was a brave attempt at something that hadn't been done to date. Audiences that see it today will tend to judge it against the films and musicals of today and, perhaps, the huge all-star casts of musicals gone past. But to do that to this film, or any for that matter, is an injustice to the film itself.
There are some good musical moments in the film. The first is that of Bobby Van. Mr. Van took his role of Harry Lovett just after closing a 2 year Tony nominated (for best actor) run of the Broadway revival, "No, No, Nanette." He is a song-and-dance-man from way back and, honestly, the only one in the cast that was truly talented and experienced for musicals. He never misses a step in his "Question Me An Answer" and rightly so ... he was totally at home as Harry. Other pleasant numbers are done by Olivia Hussey when she welcomes the new visitors and while the lyrics are weak, James Shigeta shows his strong voice in the "Family" song, as well as a nicely done staging of the full piece.
View the film for what it is ... a fantasy about a place where you never grow old, hidden in the ice and snow covered mountains of Tibet, found by a group of unsuspecting modern-day people wrapped up in the strife of any modern culture. Take this and compare it to reality and you get a film that falls short of a goal. But ... take this film for the message of love and peace and tranquility and brotherly love and you get a warm and refreshing message and a positive one at that.
To some this film may seem corny to others a welcomed release from the hectic pace of reality. To the first, try to not judge and just enjoy the message. To the second, you have discovered the secret of Shangri-La!