Guilty Pleasures: The Phantom of the Opera (2004)

Nobody quite spunks millions of dollars up the screen like Joel Schumacher, and his “Phantom” is a noisy, over-produced, tacky adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s noisy, over-produced, tacky musical. At least it looks like every cent ended up on the screen…

My girlfriend will occasionally stick on “Phantom” on a Sunday afternoon, and I’ll go through my usual huffing and puffing, protesting that I really don’t want to watch that shit – even though secretly I know I’m going to love it. I’m like a teenager who doesn’t want to go on the kiddie rides with his little sis, knowing full well he’ll be laughing his arse off once he gets on the teacup ride.

And, if I’m honest, I buy into “Phantom” pretty early on, from the black and white prologue featuring an auction in a burnt out opera house. One of the lots is a gigantic chandelier, and the auctioneer recalls the mystery of the Phantom of the Opera many years before…

Suddenly the screen is ablaze as the opera house reverts to it’s former gaudy glory, accompanied by that really cheesy theme which is a time warp straight back to the 80’s, with it’s organs and guitar riffs – back to the days when everyone’s mum had a Compact Disc of Webber/Rice showtunes.

I kind of like the bullying, repetitious nature of the songs – if a certain ditty doesn’t catch first time, don’t worry! You’ll hear it again seven or eight times before the film’s out, just to make sure you’re humming it for the next month.

What I really get off on is the Phantom’s underground shag pad, and the way his punt goes around the flooded passageways on a rail. I also get off on the Phantom punting along in his cloak and mask, singing, with the milky-thighed Christine in the front warbling along with him.

I like the amount of candles the Phantom uses to light up his place, even down to the miraculous gadget which ignites candles as they emerge from the jade green water surrounding the joint.

And I really love the way one passageway in the Phantom’s lair is lit by gold painted arms protruding from the walls holding candelabras. Not severed, stuffed arms, you understand – there’s really men standing the other side of the walls, sticking their arms through! Talk about crap jobs…

Casting of the Webber’s Phantom has always been a mystery to me – the original production starred Michael Crawford, still best known in Britain for his role as manchild Frank Spencer in the slapstick 70’s sitcom “Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em”.

For the big screen, LeRoux’s skull-faced Phantom is played by the rapist-faced Gerard Butler, who talks all his low notes and shouts all his high notes, and looks like he genuinely can’t wait to get his big hairy hands all over the supple Emmy Rossum. Rossum, in return, belies her tender years by giving the Phantom both barrells of a “Fuck me” stare, and wears dresses with straps that fall down every time she’s excited. We get to see a lot of Emmy Rossum’s bare shoulders in this pic.

Tacky, ridiculous, self-serious, dated, campy and spectacular – actually, when you put it in those terms, it’s hard to imagine how Schumacher could’ve done it any better. After all, Webber’s musical isn’t exactly Tosca – his “Phantom” has always been tasteless, so why not go the whole hog? Nice one, Joel!

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About leerobertadams

Lee is an English writer, blogger and film critic living in Brno, Czech Republic. When not watching and writing about movies, he loves football, reading, eating out, and enjoying his adopted home city with his girlfriend and baby daughter.

Posted on 01/11/2011, in Film, Movies, Musicals, P and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Too funny! I couldn’t agree more about this movie though, it’s so ridiculous, yet hilarious and awesome at the same time! That kind of camp is one of the reasons I love Andrew Lloyd Weber things. 🙂

  2. “rapist-faced Gerard Butler”

    So awesome. Well done, really cool review. I’ll have to watch this again for Emmy Rossum’s shoulders.

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