You Really Ought to Give The Music Man a Try
Con artist, Professor Harold Hill (Matthew Broderick), arrives in River City, a small Iowa town, ready to pull his usual scam. That sees him convincing parents that their town needs a marching band to make sure the children don't go off the rails on a pool table which has been installed in a local establishment. And as such Harold plans to collect the money for uniforms and instruments before making a quick get away. Trouble is that in River City there is librarian Marian Paroo (Kristin Chenoweth) who is against what Harold is trying to convince the rest of the town is a good idea.
I have to be honest and tell you that I have never seen the 1962 version of "The Music Man" despite having listened to the soundtrack so many times as a child that I know the songs. But I did go to see a production of it at the local theatre as a child and have been a fan of the songs ever since. As such I can't tell you how well this 2003 made for TV remake of "The Music Man" compares to the popular 1962 version but I can tell you that on a sleepy Sunday afternoon this musical remake put a huge smile on my face and made me forget everything else which had been on my mind.
Anyway I am not going to go in to detail as to what happens in "The Music Man" other than say we have Harold Hill working his magic to win people over but finding himself with a huge battle to win over Marian who doesn't buy in to what he is selling. What I am going to say is that every single song in "The Music Man" is a joyously catchy number which between the music and the lyrics puts a massive smile on your face. Maybe it is just that I haven't watched a good old fashioned musical in a while but the songs in this stood out more than I expected with more familiar ones than I remembered on the soundtrack I use to listen to.
But the big thing, the thing which this 2003 version of "The Music Man" has and which for me is the reason why it works is simply Matthew Broderick. Watching Matthew Broderick perform the various songs and delivering the witty dialogue you get a sense that he loves musicals and has studied the great actors who have been in some great musicals. As such for me there was definitely a bit of Dick Van Dyke to the way Broderick played Harold Hill with some great double takes and shoulder shimmies but also with that warmth and kindness. But Broderick has the skill to make it all feel so natural that it never feels forced. In fairness all the cast play their parts well and deliver the catchy songs, many of which have quick lyrics to contend with.
What this all boils down to is that this remake of "The Music Man" is a lot of fun with everyone doing a wonderful job of bringing to life the great songs as well as the banter. And for me it is Matthew Broderick who makes this remake tick as he brings touches of all those great musical actors to his performance yet still makes it feel his own.