"Funny Girl" (1968) – Classic Movie Review/RANT

What’s going on guys? I’m Tyler and to
continue my brand-new series of classic
movie reviews-as well as talk about some
musicals leading up to the release of
“Hamilton”, I’m here to let you know that
“Funny Girl” is not only NoPerfectMovie…
I wouldn’t even call this one of the
greatest musicals of all time despite
what some older more established critics
would seem to think since AFI considers
this one of the greatest musicals of all
time and considers two of the songs in
this movie to be considered some of the
greatest songs from a movie ever, which…
one of them is for sure but if I’m being
honest, I think movies like “Bohemian
Rhapsody”, “Ray” and the second half of “A Star is Born” owe so much more to this
movie because this is such a
formulaic, generic biopic about a true
life person that tries to cover so much
about their lives that it becomes
overstuffed & uninteresting because
the things that you enjoy most about
witnessing what this real-life person
was like and what their performances
were like, it tries to focus on things
that don’t really either matter all that
much or don’t even make sense-usually
regarding someone’s personal life! So for
further context, “Funny Girl” is about
Fanny Brice

(Barbra Streisand)
who quickly rises to become a major star
in Broadway revue performances and after
she becomes famous, she enters a
self-destructive relationship with this
charismatic but still very shady gambler
(Omar Sharif) and for whatever
reason she finds it really tough to
decide on whether or not her career is
more important or her relationship to
this man who loves her, but also leaves
her on so many different occasions in
order to live his own life and let her
live her life without each other being
so concerned about committing… which
would have been an interesting enough
idea to explore in a movie like this:
Why people are wrong for each other but they stay with each other anyways but we’ll
get more into that later, part of the
reason I wanted to watch this, it was
either a toss-up between “Funny Girl” or
“Hello Dolly”-I only picked “Funny Girl”
because I had already heard the song
“Don’t Rain on My Parade” in a bunch of
other movies but I had heard the Bobby
Darin version,
not the Barbra Streisand version. Having
seen this movie, I still think the Darin
version is better because it has a
slower jazzy rhythm to it and Darin is
the type of singer who isn’t really
concerned what other people think about
his voice-he’s not gonna belt it out
like Streisand does (even though she’s
really good at it) but minor notes there,
and when I found out that Fanny Brice
was a real-life Broadway revue performer,
I thought that would really be
interesting to see what that kind of
life was like! For those who don’t know
what Broadway revue was, it was
basically a live variety act-you had
singing, dancing, comedy sketches in the
exact same show-sometimes in the exact
same skit and that jack-of-all-trades
mentality of being in show business is
something I miss. We don’t really have
that many performers nowadays who are
actors, singers and dancers. You have
actors & singers and you have
actors & comedians, sometimes you even have directors & actors or writers & actors.
You don’t really have an in-between, (for lack of a better
term) there isn’t as much variety as
there used to be and I thought it would
really be interesting to see what that
life was like and to see it be
translated into a musical! And I will say
this; when we do see the Broadway
performances, they are easily the
highlight of the film! I love the way
they portray the audience & the stage
in these huge, massive wide shots to show
the scope & potential of a Broadway
show like this, but when you show the
audience and especially these close-ups
of people who are really close to Fanny
Brice; her friends, her family, her bosses,
it puts a lot of pressure on her because
she has a lot more to lose-especially
when she’s trying out for the very first
time and we also get these close-ups of
Fanny that really show how much
being witnessed by so many people for
the first time scares her, but how she
quickly adjusts to the attention that
she receives and the gratitude that she
gets from the audience because there are
times throughout this movie where she
does entertain them completely by
accident-she’s supposed to sing and
dance but instead she makes them laugh
because she fucks up her routines and
her bosses understand very clearly
that it doesn’t really matter whether
the entertainment
was intentional or not, what matters is
she’s entertaining people-which is why
they keep her out longer, they give her
much more to work with even though she’s
afraid of it… I respect more than I like
the way that she tries to negotiate what
her own terms are in regards to what she
performs, but sometimes it gets really
annoying because Streisand’s character
is unbelievably stubborn when she is
trying to get her foot into the door, she
seems to think that she can negotiate
with the big bosses over what types of
material she can work with and normally
I would appreciate that and think “She’s
strong & independent, I like that” but
she’s not strong & independent, she’s
actually very picky & needy and during
some performances especially in the
beginning, you get the sense that she’s
entering show business just
for the sake of attention as opposed to
trying to make millions of people happy
like I just talked about in my “The Muppet
Movie” review, so a part of it really made
her character seem shallow at first and
if I’m being completely honest, that
feeling did NOT go away but we’ll get
more into that later on. But in regards
to the style of the Broadway
performances, they are really well done!
They have some nice musical moments as
well ,particularly one moment where
Streisand comes out as a singing bride
with a pillow underneath her dress and
the reactions from the performers on
stage and the audience was really
surprising but also really funny, I
wasn’t expecting that and based on the
reactions, you could tell that no one else
was expecting that either and that just
adds to the comedy to it. And the songs
themselves-even though I don’t remember
the majority of them, the two that stand
out and the ones that everyone praises
the most like “People” &”Don’t Rain on
My Parade”,
those are exceptional songs! “People” is
such a really sweet and thoughtful
ballad that has this soft melody that
offsets Streisand’s almost operatic tone
in regards to her voice! I like how the
two of them blend in with each other and
I also like how it tries to offer an
explanation but not a justification as
to why Fanny Brice enters this
relationship that seems so uncaring
yet she finds some peace & happiness and
some feelings that she doesn’t get from
the other people in her own life which
seems a little weird at first, but after
a while it kind of does make sense.
“Don’t Rain on My Parade” is very cheerful
and uplifting because of the whole idea
that life is about taking risks and even
if those risks don’t pay off,
you can say to yourself “Well at least I
tried it instead of sitting on my ass
wondering what would have happened if I
did or didn’t take the chance”, so that
was what made the song feel warranted
even though the characters feelings were
still a little bizarre as to why she
would enter a relationship like this in
the beginning and almost risk her entire
career to go after this one guy who’s
willing to leave her for the sake of
living his own life and letting her live
her own but… this is the biggest problem
with me personally with “Funny Girl”;
it has so many great ideas but it doesn’t
know which ones to focus on more than
others because for the 1st half hour
(as I keep continuously saying), it is
mainly about her trying to get into show
business by being the original Rachel Berry
in terms of personality traits… which can
easily turn off people as I’m saying
that and for good reason! She is stubborn, annoying & really obnoxious and
she really doesn’t change throughout the
majority of the movie-if anything it
gets worse the more this movie focuses
on the relationship which is actually
the major key component! And as I was
watching this movie, seeing him pop in
every 20 minutes I just thought”Let me guess, he’s
gonna overtake the movie at one point”
and sure enough, they build
a life together full of so many things
that become really inconsequential to
the story (living in this huge-ass house,
having a child who we see like
once or twice and we don’t even know
what the child’s name is-that was really
essential), as I said before the one big
song “Don’t Rain on My Parade” is where
she leaves her career behind for her
husband and then during this one musical
montage, she all of a sudden has her job
back and then it’s like her storming out
on her fellow performers meant
absolutely nothing! And that’s…
“Funny Girl” tries to say that there are
consequences of the overall story,
but there aren’t! And the one thing I haven’t
mentioned yet is that Fanny Brice as a
character doesn’t really have an arc… her
boyfriend Nicky does! Because once you
meet him for the 1st time, you look
at him and you already assume him to be
that charismatic con artist who woos
girls and then screws him over and
leaves but over the course of the movie,
it becomes really surprising over the
fact that even though he keeps leaving
her, he never expresses any love for any
other woman throughout the course of the
movie-in fact you never hear about any
ex-girlfriends of his, you never hear
about any potential victims of his that
were women because he’s in a strictly
male business in regards to gambling
and forgery,
so that aspect of the movie was
definitely interesting and a change of
pace in regards to a character like this
and he’s the type of character who lives
a seedy life but he doesn’t want to,
he does want to settle down with this
one woman-not because of her money or
her status, but because he thinks she’s a
talented woman who deserves all the
attention she gets but at the same time,
he also doesn’t want to take pity from her.
Whenever he’s in a tight situation,
she tries to offer money or support, he’s
really rude & stubborn about it-more
stubborn than she is in certain scenes
oddly enough and that part-again was
interesting but the problem was he’s not
the one who’s supposed to have an arc,
it’s supposed to be her and no matter
how many times she hears it from other
“This man is bad-you should be helping
him, he’s not the one who should be
helping you”, I never got the sense that
that she listened from those other
people-if anything, there are times where
she already knew that for herself when
she’s sitting on the couch late at night
he walks in and she of course gives this
Oscar-baity monologue about how
“Everyone thought I was in such a bad
mood because my own husband wasn’t at
the performance of a lifetime for me” and
yet two scenes later, she completely
forgets about it and I understand
it’s supposed to
be intentional but you never get the
sense that she
learns from it and I can’t really tell
if the movie is actually telling us that
she’s never going to learn and it’s
supposed to be a cautionary tale or if
the movie’s supposed to tell us that
deep down she’s learned it but she’s not
gonna say it flat-out loud !I’m not one
for being spoon-fed these things but the
movie’s tone and through
Barbra Streisand’s performance, I really didn’t
get the sense that she was learning
anything as a character-the ending sure
as shit didn’t make me convinced that
she had learned anything! If I’m being
honest, her boyfriend learned a hell of
a lot more than she does…
this is probably gonna be a completely
useless rant-if anything, it might
entertain some people for how off-base
and repetitive I get over the course
of it but “Funny Girl” was just a huge
disappointment! It does not age well!
Barbra Streisand’s performance is as
melodramatic as people usually
describe her acting; her facial
expressions and body language are on
point and there are so many shots that
capture just a close-up of her brightly
lit, perfect and innocent-which again,
could possibly be on purpose but her
line deliveries are just so over the top
and so pretentious it really… I said this
already but Barbra Streisand was the
original Rachel Berry and that’s not
a good thing whatsoever! Omar Sharif was
good as Nicky Arnstein but just looking
at him character-wise,
you already know for a fact what kind of
person he’s going to be based on his
constant smile, based on his costume
design, based on how flattering he is
even when the situation does not call
for him to be so suave and charming, the
movie is just a mess and I’d say more
about it but I’ve already forgotten
about it… I usually go on a walk after
I watch a movie to collect my thoughts
so I can write them down… I had already
forgotten half the movie so yeah,
this review is basically a 15 minute
rant about the things that I completely
forgot and how the things I remembered
should not have stuck
with me, so obviously I don’t recommend
checking out “Funny Girl” even though the
music is for the most part well done and
the Broadway performances (when they’re
there) are well done which really aren’t
that many, the most impressive shot for
me personally was during “Don’t Rain on
My Parade” where we start on a helicopter
shot of the ferry that Streisand’s on
and then it zooms so far into a close-up
of her and then zooms back out as the
song’s done and I thought “That was really
impressive, why aren’t there more musical
numbers being done like this”?! And I wish
I had something to say about the
supporting cast but like most musical
biopics about one person, the supporting
cast is completely expendable-
there was one actor who’s supposed to be
Streisand’s boss and had a funny
real-life name (his last name was Pigeon)
but I can’t even remember that! What I do
remember are some real-life facts that
obviously were left out of the movie
because they would have messed up
the narrative (for example Nicky Arnstein was
not Fanny Brice’s 1st husband or 1st love-
not even remotely close) Why didn’t
they just keep the 1st love in there
as like a 5 minute thing?! It would
have been rushed as hell, but it’s not
like the rest of the movie wasn’t rushed
Bottom line, “Funny Girl” should have
either focused on Fanny Brice’s rise to
stardom or her relationship with Nicky
Arnstein, it couldn’t do both and it
shouldn’t have and for all those reasons,
I’m gonna give “Funny Girl” 2/5
Thanks for sitting with me on this
completely pointless rant,
needless to say “Funny Girl” rained on my
parade. Let me know in the comments below
what do you thought of “Funny Girl” if by chance you disagree with me, and let me
know what’s an old fashioned movie that
a lot of people love but you don’t
because there are a few (whether we like
to admit it or not). Be sure to let me
know in the comments below, be sure to
stay tuned for more musical reviews and
be sure to like and subscribe!
Take care!

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: