Thursday, December 15, 2022

Doc Watch: Idina Menzel - Which Way to the Stage? (2022)

...i guess she found it

Watched:  12/15/2022
Format:  Disney+
Viewing:  First
Director:  Anne McCabe/ Eric Maldin

This is a thing I watched.  I guess it's a documentary?  It's 90 minutes (which I missed when I turned it on, thinking it would be short) and that's movie length.  So here we are.

The film follows Broadway, movie, recording, etc... star Idina Menzel as she tours across the US, heading toward what the movie posits is a lifelong goal of Menzel to perform at Madison Square Garden.  The tension is a bit undercut by:  She will absolutely do this show.  And:  We see her do the same show in 30 cities before hitting NYC.  But, no, I get it.  She's a New Yorker from birth.  That's a big deal.  It's like me getting to, uh...  blog at a coffee shop in Austin?  I have no idea.  

Anyway, the movie wants to frame Menzel as someone who struggled her way to the top, but that's not the narrative.  The narrative is that she's very driven and talented, and she happens to be attractive.  Now, that's no guarantee of success, but those three things are not negatives in the business we call "show".  So, yeah, you do ger her history.  She revisits old haunts.  She recalls how she wasn't sure what to do with herself in the movie's weird humblebrag of "oh no, she has so many things she can do, no one can slot her for one thing!  And that's hurting her career!" which is a weird flex after Frozen and a sold out arena tour.  

Where the film succeeds is in showing how she balances her insanely demanding career and those demands with being a person who cares deeply about her son and husband.  

These docs can make you kind of hate the subject, but she handles herself very well, and when she is acting a little weird, it's also clear she's being pushed so, so hard - and has been every day for years.  When she gets her second wind, she's back at it.  

Anyway - it was fine.  But I was kind of laughing at portions, like "soooo... this is a doc about how a young woman of extraordinary talent decided to be a performer, and, indeed, she did, enjoying doors thrown open for her because of that talent."  Not exactly edgy stuff.  But also nice to know sometimes that can get rewarded.  But one huge surprise is that she does seem like maybe she's a tad disappointed she didn't just become a rock star.  Which...  wild, man.

She also worries a bit that she's not a real star or something - like no one knows who she is outside of certain circles.  Which... you just sold out arenas.  Plus, if a dopey dude like me has known who she is since Wicked, and I pay zero attention to Broadway, she's doing fiiiiine.

So tune in and see her belt out some tunes, from Rent to Frozen.  

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