Pop Culture

Reviews For The Uneasily Quarantined:

Title: Hamilton

Describe This Movie In One Simpsons Quote:

MISS HOOVER: Bart, do you want to play John Wilkes Booth, or do you want to act like a maniac?

Brief Plot Synopsis: Musical responsible for the second-funniest line in Knives Out gets a theatrical streaming release.

Rating Using Random Objects Relevant To The Film: 4.5 Spiro Agnews out of 5.

Tagline: "An American Musical."

Better Tagline: "It's not like you're going anywhere this weekend."

Not So Brief Plot Synopsis: How does a bastard, orphan, son of a whore and a Scotsman, dropped in the middle of a forgotten
spot in the Caribbean by Providence impoverished in squalor
grow up to be a hero and a scholar?

"Critical" Analysis: You know a situation is bad when a planned theatrical release, one that was virtually guaranteed to generate massive box office numbers, not only gets that date bumped up an entire year, but ends up on streaming video instead of the big screen. But that's where we are. If there's a bright side to living in a pandemic, it's that you get to see Lin-Manuel Miranda's Tony Award-winning smash Hamilton (with the original cast) this weekend instead of in 2021.

That said, the act of reviewing Hamilton is almost entirely superfluous, not just because it's one of the most anticipated movies of the last few years (even before it was moved) but because of the scarcity of other marquee options (not to take anything away from that upcoming Suzi Quatro documentary). Not only are we starved for something — anything — to distract us, but when that something is a film of a celebrated musical most of us never got to see, this is as close to a slam dunk as it gets.

In the kingdom if the COVID-19, the one movie with one "I" in the title is king, or something.

Wisely eschewing a cinematic reimagining (a la My Fair Lady), Miranda and director Thomas Kail also avoid a minimalist presentation that would do little more than ape the full theatrical experience. The approach helps bring supporting players like Daveed Diggs (Lafayette/Thomas Jefferson), Renée Elise Goldsberry (Angelica Schuyler), and Anthony Ramos (John Laurens/Philip Hamilton) to the fore.

Hamilton the movie was filmed over three nights back in 2016, and while it's nice to hear the audiences's reactions to King George's (Jonathan Groff) bon mots or Okieriete Onaodowanit's bawdy Hercules Mulligan, it's hard not to feel a kind of sorrowful frisson at their (and the cast's) enthusiasm, viewing it in the present day.

Sure, in one sense it's about "immigrants getting the job done," but it's more than that. Hamilton is above all an exploration of the combo of tenacity, fallibility, and generosity we recognize as being uniquely American. Or used to be, at any rate.

Releasing this on July 4th weekend serves two purposes. First, it's going to generate a few gazillion more Disney+ subscribers. Second, it gives us a chance to feel good about America when that sentiment is in exceedingly short supply. Because more and more it feels like we've indeed thrown away our shot.

Hamilton is streaming on Disney+, which — for some reason — recently ended their free trial subscriptions.
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Peter Vonder Haar writes movie reviews for the Houston Press and the occasional book. The first three novels in the "Clarke & Clarke Mysteries" - Lucky Town, Point Blank, and Empty Sky - are out now.
Contact: Pete Vonder Haar