Opening Night
dir Isaac Rentz
scr Gerry De Leon, Greg Lisi
prd Topher Grace, Daniel Posada, Alex Garcia, Jason Tamasco
with Topher Grace, Taye Diggs, Anne Heche, Alona Tal, JC Chasez, Rob Riggle, Lesli Margherita, Lauren Lapkus, Paul Scheer, Zach Cregger, Brian Huskey, Johnny Ray Gill
release US 26.May.17
16/Mexico 1h23
Opening Night
The show must go on: Grace and Chasez

diggs heche tal
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
Opening Night A sharp, fast-paced backstage musical comedy, this movie sometimes turns frantic as it bounces from one gag to the next. Thankfully, most of the humour is character-based, so it's engaging and entertaining. There's also a stream of musical numbers that get the audience singing along. It's relentlessly silly, with a particularly excruciating climax, but it's appropriately packed with show-stopping moments.

Broadway stage manager Nick (Grace) needs to keep his cast and crew from falling apart as his show One Hit Wonderland, starring 'N Sync's JC Chasez, opens. Actor Malcolm (Diggs) helps smooth things over by supplying weed and keeping up with the gossip. He also tells everyone that he slept with the boyfriend of actress Brandy (Margherita). Then leading lady Brooke (Heche) suffers a head injury, and her understudy is Nick's ex Chloe (Tal), who just had a drunken fling with JC. Before the curtain rises, competitions erupt, allegiances shift and there are more surprises.

The film is a riot of witty references to musical acts that never repeated the success of their big hit. Although the show within the show looks terrible, the antics in the wings are diverting. Songs break out off-stage as well as on, although the sassy use of well-chosen vintage hits is much more effective than the show's corny original numbers. The showstopper is a fully choreographed intermission dance-off to a mash-up of I Know What Boys Like and The Bad Touch.

Grace brings his geeky charm, as Nick deflects each crisis with brittle sarcasm. Even if attempts to rekindle the romance between Nick and Chloe are half-hearted at best, Tal has plenty of attitude, plus a killer rendition of I Melt With You. Diggs and Margherita bring some snap, including a gratuitous exchange of insults that's funny even if it's not particularly original. And Chasez amusingly plays himself as a dim womaniser (his earnest She's Like the Wind is hilarious).

Under the bouncy-shouty tone, the film cleverly explores how it feels to fail to make your dreams come true after the taste of initial success. But while the script has an obsession with lusty antics, director Rentz never makes anything remotely sexy. Instead, there's a mesh of romantic goofiness that plays out in ways that make us smile but never swoon. So it's hard to escape the feeling that this is basically a network TV movie spiced up with some R-rated language.

cert 15 themes, language, innuendo 8.Nov.16

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