Apr 26, 2006

Barbra Streisand Owes Me 2 hours and 23 Minutes of My Life

Because that's precisely how much time, patience, and half-attention I gave to her film Funny Lady last night. Going into it, I should have seen the red flags - the fact that it was a musical starring James Caan being the reddest of them all, probably even emblazoned with skull and crossbones - yet I pressed on defiantly, hoping at some point, I would be rewarded for my persistence; after all, I was pleasantly surprised at what a gem the prequel to this film, 1968's Funny Girl, turned out to be when I caught it last month.
The thing is, I don't think that Babs can give a poor performance. Funny Girl, Hello, Dolly!, The Way We Were - the woman and her larger-than-life voice are spectacular, and like her or not, you can't help but admit she's got a hell of a lot of talent. The plot of this movie, though - and don't argue that musicals don't need plots - can't be held afloat by even the most valiant of Streisand's efforts. She still manages to shine here, but she's the only ray of light in this seemingly never-ending, picaresque bio-pic. Two and a half hours into Funny Lady, I still didn't care about the fate of fantastically bitchy Fanny Brice, I had seen Caan lash out as the frustrated husband (complete with expletives and wall-punching, in true Sonny-Corleone style), and was totally indifferent to the fact that Omar Sharif's Nicky Arnstein had remarried a tacky Lesley-Ann Warren wannabe. I never thought I'd long for the strains of "Don't Rain on My Parade" or the sight of Babs on rollerskates again, but Funny Lady succeeded only at highlighting what a great flick its predeccesor is. People may need people, but they definitely don't need this movie.