"... and then he kissed me"

Open with a song!

Not enough films these days have a decent song and dance number. Balls to your musicals, your MTV generation video-cack and your Kevin Smith post-ironic Clerks II embarrassment … sometimes you just need an unashamed, cards on the table dance number.

No film does it better than ‘Adventures in Babysitting’ (Chris Colombus, 1987) which wonderfully does it not once but twice. Midway through the film we’re treated to the oddest gang-survival tip: sing your way out of the rough house. But it’s the opening where the magic happens:

It’s vibrant, joyous, face-slappingly attention-grabbing and performed with absolute gusto by brief screen-bother Elisabeth Shue.

A couple of years earlier, Steven ‘I still make films’ Spielberg pulled off the same trick with ‘Temple of Doom’. A weird, full-on dance number which drifts into Busby Berkeley territory emphasising the fantasy nature of the film and no doubt going part of the way to justifying an inexplicable PG certificate in the UK.

Another nod has to go to ‘Heart and Souls’ (Ron Underwood, 1993) which I intend to wax lyrical about later this week. It’s perhaps too brief to be counted as a musical number, but it retains that joyous, celebratory feeling that I’m banging on about. Unashamed pleasure which the aforementioned ‘Clerks II’ simply doesn’t have. It’s a clumsy, awkward, crow-barred musical number which seems as shallow as the sequel itself. This is how you do it, Kev:

Our final nod will go to wheelchair/alien McDonalds fun fest ‘Mac and Me’ (Stewart Raffill, 1988). It defies explanation.

Bring back this unashamed joy to your films. It doesn’t require a musical for a character to burst into song. Just judge it right, gauge your audience and don’t do what Kevin Smith did with ‘Clerks II’.

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