There are a lot of great movie musicals — in fact, some of the best movies ever made have been musicals. But that doesn’t mean the genre isn’t full of cinematic disasters. For every All That Jazz, there’s an A Chorus Line, and for every Fiddler a Yentl. Relive the biggest mistakes in movie musical history in this rundown of some of the worst ever made.
Across the Universe
Julie Taymor’s Beatles jukebox musical was batshit insane, and not in the good way. At one point, a woman literally crawls into an apartment through a bathroom window, and a closeted lesbian named Prudence is begged, through song, to “come out and play.” Also, Bono shows up.
Does the scene above terrify you? If not, the rest of this crazy movie will, from its opening credits to its ending (spoiler: the Rapture occurs).
A Chorus Line
The record-breaking musical did not adapt well to film, probably because the score was updated with a ridiculous ’80s pop sound. Despite the non-singing performance by Michael Douglas, the rest of the cast was a group of unknown actors who, well, pretty much stayed that way.
Mariah Carey famously blamed Glitter‘s poor reception, critically and commercially, on 9/11. But, no, the movie is just plain terrible.
Don’t be fooled by the nostalgia you might have for this unnecessary sequel that is fairly unrelated to the original movie. It’s got a flimsy plot practically copied and pasted from its predecessor (but with motorcycles), is comprised of a collection of truly bad songs, and is overall an example of truly abysmal filmmaking. Not even a young Michelle Pfeiffer could save this one.
The King and I
No, not the original starring Yul Brynner and Deborah Kerr — I’m talking about the animated remake featuring dancing dragons and monkeys, which the president of the Rogers and Hammerstein Organization called his “biggest mistake.”
A Little Night Music
Fact: A Little Night Music is one of the most brilliant of all of Stephen Sondheim’s stage musicals. The movie, though, was a disaster, particularly given Elizabeth Taylor’s drastically fluctuating weight gain and loss throughout the film (not to mention the fact that she didn’t really even try to sing).
It’s the biggest box office hit in the United Kingdom, but man, this movie is the cinematic equivalent of an Arbor Mist hangover. (What does that even mean? I don’t know! This movie is awful!)
Rob Marshall stuck gold with his Oscar-winning movie version of Chicago (which, let’s be honest, was so heavily edited and Auto-Tuned that crying babies could have pulled off what Renee Zellweger and Richard Gere attempted). His follow-up was a miserable flop. Something must be said when Fergie is the best actor in your movie. Yes, even Daniel Day-Lewis is not infallible.
The Phantom of the Opera
Joel Schumacher took Broadway’s longest-running musical and made it into one boring clunker of a movie, featuring a then-unknown Gerard Butler in the title role. The rest of the cast — Emmy Rossum, Patrick Wilson — was also pretty boring and unrecognizable to most audiences. Minnie Driver gave the most entertaining performance as a prima donna, and even her vocals were dubbed.
You know what’s a great idea? Eleven years after Rent premiered off-Broadway in New York, gather together the original cast and, for some reason, Rosario Dawson, and have them all play characters a decade younger than they actually are. Oh, and the guy who directed Home Alone can be in charge of all of it.
Rock of Ages
If you’ve ever wanted to see a lot of famous people do karaoke to Journey and Foreigner while dressed up for Halloween, this one’s for you. Seriously, this looks like the movie musical version of Hepatitis B.
Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
Long before Across the Universe, there was this disaster. Words fail me, so let Steve Martin’s cover of “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer” do all the explaining.
I’ve only been able to watch this up until Mandy Patinkin’s nude scene, but I don’t feel bad about it because Barbra Streisand is the only person on Earth who has seen Yentl in its entirety. Barbra Streisand proved once and for all that she’s in charge because she managed to make a MOVIE MUSICAL co-starring Mandy Patinkin, who has the voice of an angel, and she’s the literally the only person in the movie who gets to sing.
I know. I know. You want to love it and you keep up a good show of it, but deep down inside you know the truth: Xanadu is really bad.