Phantom of the Opera
Somewhere Liberace is giggling right now, because director Joel Schumacher dresses up Andrew Lloyd Webber’s already frilly treatment of Gaston Leroux’s novel Phantom of the Opera even more, and the resulting 143 minutes contain more gold chintz, ruffled shirts, long-sleeve gloves, sparkly jewels, opulent candelabras, billowing capes, ornate masks, lacey undergarments, spilling décolletage, and garish garishness than in all the dressing rooms in Vegas. Webber’s musical is almost as old as the Olsen twins, so at this point you already know whether you care about this aching, melodramatic fight for the heart and soul of singing ingenue Christine Daae (Emmy Rossum) between the handsome Raoul (Patrick Wilson) and the masked Phantom (Gerard Butler) who nurtured her vocal talents and covets her other gifts. The set decorators and costume designers are the true stars here—they find a next level beyond over-the-top with every decision they make, rendering the really lively scenes such as “Masquerade” almost intoxicatingly colorful—aside from the two bona-fide names in this cast. Miranda Richardson channels Madeline Kahn’s Blazing Saddles Marlene Dietrich as Madame Giry, the only woman who knows the full secret behind the Phantom’s origins. And as Italian diva Carlotta, Minnie Driver fires off the greatest Charo impersonation of all time.