Colma: The Musical

"Very Good"

Colma: The Musical Review


Colma: The Musical blazes a new trail for cinematic start-ups: the earnest, low-budget musical. Forget the massive, overdone blowout that is Chicago. Skip the made-for-Oscar, epic style of Dreamgirls. Hit the suburbs with this cast of three 18-year-olds and you'll find that a sharp, witty song doesn't need a $70 million budget to be thoroughly enjoyable.

Musical features are rare enough, but for a directorial debut -- a great one, at that -- it's practically unheard of. This oddity is the brainchild of songwriter/screenwriter/actor H.P. Mendoza and director Richard Wong, taking the idea for a single song and morphing it into a 100-minute feature that displays humor and maturity... and the occasional bumps of a first try.

The story focuses on a trio of buddies just two weeks out of high school: Billy (Jake Moreno), a straight-laced romantic with acting aspirations; Rodel (Mendoza), a closeted gay with a scathing sense of humor; and Maribel (L.A. Renigen), a party girl usually interested in getting laid. The three grew up in Colma, a pseudo-suburb of San Francisco, best known for its unusually high ratio of buried people to living residents.

This is the setting teen angst was made for. The opening musical number -- the catchy "Colma Stays" -- sets the vibe perfectly, as the three leads go about their business knowing that no matter how much changes, even within their sleepy town, nothing will ever change. And each must determine what they'll do about that now that the structure of high school is gone from their lives.

What begins as a fairly light, poppy comedy becomes appropriately denser as character issues emerge. And Mendoza's songs reflect and drive the narrative surprisingly well, as the music moves from easy indie to barroom shanty (in 3/4 time, no less) to a brooding ballad sung in a graveyard.

By the time it's apparent the friends' relationships must change, Mendoza and Wong have inched up the film's heart and sincerity without a false note of sappiness. As a writer, Mendoza can really create a story with balance and weight, whether he's creating dialogue or lyrics, and his contribution to Colma (acting as well) is the film's greatest revelation.

Colma's vocal performances range from strong to unpolished, but that really adds to the film's charm. I would've been disappointed if any of the film's leads belted out a complex, pitch-perfect song; it just wouldn't have fit their thoughts and, frankly, their characters' ages. Moreno sits in the higher octaves, like a whinier version of Blink-182, and Mendoza is close by, with some appealing harmonies. Renigen displays the most natural singing ability and is probably the easiest to listen to if you closed your eyes.

We're reminded of the actors' general inexperience during some dialogue -- in particular, Moreno hits his lines a little quickly and Mendoza smoothly balances him out -- but it's worth hanging in there, especially as the actors hit a stride late in the film. And there's the occasional unnecessarily immature lyric: Rodel has a fun time rhyming "blunt" with a word that pisses off any woman.

But compare this with other films about being a teen (even the good ones), and few match this level of happy, resourceful creativity and unforced diversity. Whether or not "Colma Stays," it'd be great if the few people who made Colma: The Musical could hang around.

Colma chameleon.



Colma: The Musical

Facts and Figures

Run time: 100 mins

In Theaters: Tuesday 21st March 2006

Distributed by: Roadside Attractions

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 90%
Fresh: 27 Rotten: 3

IMDB: 6.5 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Richard Wong

Producer: Paul Kolsanoff, Richard Wong, Angel Vasquez

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Get Back Movie Review

Get Back Movie Review

Roger Appleton's documentary 'Get Back' looks into the music scene that come out of Liverpool....

Imperium Movie Review

Imperium Movie Review

First-time filmmaker Daniel Ragussis takes an unusual approach to this thriller. Since it's based on...

The Girl With All the Gifts Movie Review

The Girl With All the Gifts Movie Review

Like a 10-years-later follow-up to 28 Days Later, this small British thriller takes a refreshingly...

The Magnificent Seven Movie Review

The Magnificent Seven Movie Review

Director Antoine Fuqua brings his usual fascination with violence to this remake of the iconic...

Bridget Jones's Baby Movie Review

Bridget Jones's Baby Movie Review

As it's been 12 years since the last Bridget Jones movie, expectations aren't too high...

The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years Movie Review

The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years Movie Review

A-list director Ron Howard worked with the surviving Beatles to assemble this engaging documentary, which...

Blair Witch Movie Review

Blair Witch Movie Review

It's been 17 years since The Blair Witch Project shook up the cinema and created...

Advertisement
Anthropoid Movie Review

Anthropoid Movie Review

Outside the Czech Republic, few people know about Operation Anthropoid, a spy mission in 1943...

Kubo and the Two Strings Movie Review

Kubo and the Two Strings Movie Review

From Laika (The Boxtrolls), this is one of the most beautiful, sophisticated animated films in...

Captain Fantastic Movie Review

Captain Fantastic Movie Review

An offbeat comedy-drama with a timely kick, this charming family road trip takes on some...

Hell or High Water Movie Review

Hell or High Water Movie Review

Sicario screenwriter Taylor Sheridan delivers another fiercely intelligent, engaging story that maintains high suspense while...

The 9th Life of Louis Drax Movie Review

The 9th Life of Louis Drax Movie Review

With heavy overtones of Hitchcockian mystery and intrigue, this stylish thriller is the enjoyably melodramatic...

Kickboxer: Vengeance Movie Review

Kickboxer: Vengeance Movie Review

The 1989 Muay Thai action movie Kickboxer starred a young Jean-Claude Van Damme, who pops...

Julieta Movie Review

Julieta Movie Review

Iconic Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodovar is back with another powerfully complex female-centred drama, along the...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.