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Bye Bye Dorkie

August 5, 2010

Just for fun, and since my parents have been trying to get me to see it forever, I finally watched the movie version of Bye Bye Birdie.  A popular musician, Conrad Birdie, is being drafted into the army, and girls across the United States are grieving.  An unsuccessful songwriter/biochemist, Albert Peterson, wants to marry his secretary, Rosie DeLeon, but he’s more than just bit of a momma’s boy, and he hasn’t worked up the courage to tell her yet.  To help his career, Rosie comes up with a plot for Albert to write a song called “One Last Kiss” for Birdie to sing on the Ed Sullivan Show.  To make it even better, they’ll pick some random Birdie fan for him to kiss after the song.  Once Albert becomes a success with this song, his mother won’t be able to stop him from marrying Rosie.  And the lucky girl is some girl in Sweet Apple, Ohio named Kim McAfee.  But she’s just gotten herself a boyfriend who isn’t too thrilled about her kissing Birdie.  So both romantic couples have to deal with their problems while dealing with the massive “personality” that is Conrad Birdie.

I’m not that big a fan of post-World War II American musical period pieces.  It was the same with Grease.  They both seem so… silly and superficial.  And yes, musicals aren’t exactly the best place to find something serious, but I do prefer more mature musicals, like Chorus Line, Cabaret, and Les Miserables.  This was a decently entertaining musical.  Dick Van Dyke and Janet Leigh were very good in their respective parts, even if Janet is most definitely not Hispanic.  Ann-Margaret Olson was fine with acting her part, but her voice is a tad… strident.  But Conrad Birdie himself, played by Jesse Pearson, was a loser.  I’m not sure if that was intentional or if the creators just didn’t get the appeal of Elvis Presley, but the guy couldn’t sing or dance.  And he wasn’t even that good-looking.  The songs were pretty good, but most of them weren’t that memorable.  Kids, of course, is a classic, and Rosie was pretty good.  Even if they didn’t let Dick Van Dyke and Janet Leigh sing the whole song because they had to focus on Ann-Margaret Olson.  But the antiquated slang and over-the-top swooning were a bit too much for me.  I had a good time, but this wasn’t even sort of my favorite movie or musical.  If you like period pieces, you will enjoy this.  But for me, it was just… silly.

Story: 6.2      Cinematography: 8.0      Soundtrack: 6.5      Acting: 8.2      Overall: 6.2

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