We gave it a B+
In the movie-musical pantheon, Rent lies somewhere between the audacious genius of 2002’s Chicago and the plain audacity of last year’s Producers. The obsessively faithful rendition of Broadway’s bohemian rhapsody may not thrill film fans — director Chris Columbus captures Rent‘s glory but not its grit — but it would probably please creator Jonathan Larson.
EXTRAS The composer-lyricist — who, at age 35, died of an aortic aneurysm on the eve of Rent‘s Off Broadway opening — is celebrated in the nearly two-hour ”No Day But Today.” Friends and family chart Larson’s beginnings (starring in high school musicals; slinging hash at Manhattan’s Moondance Diner), while cast and crew revisit Rent‘s roots (a producer calls an early version of the play ”lugubrious” and ”plodding”). On top of the wonderfully overstuffed doc, there are deleted scenes and songs (including the gorgeous ”Goodbye Love”), an alternate ending, and a nonstop, wisecracking commentary from Columbus and original cast members Anthony Rapp and Adam Pascal (a.k.a. filmmaker Mark and musician Roger). The guys gripe about less-than-glowing reviews, chat about other actors (Columbus calls some of Taye Diggs’ early takes ”embarrassing”), and point out mistakes. Now we’ll never be able to watch the movie without obsessing over Idina Menzel’s smudged lipstick in ”Tango: Maureen.” Thanks a lot.