A trans actor in the lead as the ultimate transsexual from Transylvania – a brilliant idea. What could go wrong? Laverne Cox tackles the Dr. F role with gusto, glitter & fearlessness. Sounds good? Add Tim Curry & Adam Lambert to the mix and it keeps getting better & better. Ben Vereen as Dr. Scott is just icing on the cake, right?
There’s been dissent in the trans community about the casting of Cox & also about the dubious politics of the song Sweet Transvestite. Back in the day, when I first saw the original movie, heard this song, it was an amazingly powerful reassurance to my sexuality. I was never trans or a crossdresser, but the film affirmed sexual otherness in a powerfully positive light. If it isn’t a big enough step to the far right or the far left – it’s fun all the same.
Sadly the end result of this remake is a pointless, leaden, ‘reimagining’ of the film. I’ve seen countless ‘reimaginings’ of Shakespeare – Hamlet in the Wild West, As You Like It in Newfoundland – it can often work well & brings fresh meanings to great texts. I’m open to change – The Seagull on a space ship – bring it on.
But this TV remake brings nothing to the table. Cox is fine but doesn’t sell me on anything more than her ability to do high kicks & briefly channel Tina Turner. The songs aren’t given major re-workings, some scenes are shot-for-shot – reminding me of the pointless Psycho remake several years ago.
Frenetic but oddly lacking in energy. I was hoping director Kenny Ortega would bring some smarts to the dancing, he’s been a judge frequently on SYTYCD? But the man doesn’t even know where to point a camera. Don’t get me started on the costumes.
If this had been a live broadcast, a la the wonderful The Wiz, it could have had greater momentum & energy. The ‘reimagining’ was merely the including of a midnight show audience to flick lighters, talk back every now & then. None of the actors brought anything new to the characters. Good singers, game mugging but ultimately disappointing & unnecessary. Let’s hope this doesn’t become the go-to version that gets trucked out for an annual Halloween airing.
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