In all my writing and discussion about movies, there is one hill I am willing to die on when discussing films: not every movie where characters sing is a musical!
Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a musical as “a film or theatrical production typically of a sentimental or humorous nature that consists of musical numbers and dialogue based on a unifying plot.” What this means is that the songs in a musical should help progress the plot of the movie, not just have people singing a lot. To help define this, here is a list of movies that ARE musicals and movies that have a lot of singing but are NOT musicals.
- "Moulin Rouge!" is a musical
This is a musical because the songs are used as a means of substituting dialogue in many instances, expressing what a character wants to say through song instead of the spoken word.
- "A Star is Born" is NOT a musical
While the story of A Star is Born focuses on two people and the music industry, the songs themselves are not used to tell the story or move the story forward. Therefore, it is not a musical.
- "La La Land" is a musical
La La Land is a very traditional movie musical where the songs are used as dialogue and execute the plot.
- The "Pitch Perfect" movies are NOT musicals
Anna Kendrick herself has said these are not musicals because the characters aren't using music to tell the story AND they're all aware they're singing (which is usually not the case for a musical).
- "The Greatest Showman" is a musical
Again, the songs are used to move the story along and execute the plot. Therefore, it is a musical.
- "Bohemian Rhapsody" is NOT a musical
While it is the story of Queen and their music, their songs are not used to actually TELL the story; it's just a biopic about musicians.
- "Rocketman" is a musical
Rocketman is different from Bohemian Rhapsody because Elton John’s music is used in a way that tells his story; the songs are placed and sung in a way that moves the plot forward, hence why it’s a musical.
Thank you for indulging me in this week's rant!