Little Shop of Horrors (1986) Review

I’ve discovered musicals late in my movie watching life. I wasn’t a huge fan and had the preconceived notion that they were a bit “soft and silly.” I could appreciate how good Grease was but steered clear of any others, meaning I haven’t seen West Side Story or Oklahoma or most “classic” musicals.

Little Shop of Horrors is a good “gateway musical.” It isn’t too cheesy, with huge set-piece dance numbers or too much spontaneous songs about any insignificant thing. Little Shop nicely bridges the gap between comedy and musical, with likeable characters, a zany story and some very catchy songs.

Little Shop of Horrors is a good “gateway” musical

Any great musical lives or dies on its songs and Little Shop of Horrors has a decent mix. From the soulful opening number, “Little Shop of Horrors”, draws you in instantly, followed closely by the more downbeat “Skid Row.” The more R&B and soul influence on the soundtrack make for a different type of musical, even down to the actual plants songs, “Feed Me” and “Mean Green Mother from Outer Space.”

The most famous and longer lasting songs take a different tack. “Suddenly Seymour is probably the most famous song from the movie/musical and is presented in its most recognisable form here. The same goes for “Somewhere That’s Green,” really demonstrating the singing talent of the female lead, Ellen Greene.

Ellen Greene is the real musical talent in the movie

In fact, for the most part, the cast perform their musical duties very well. Ellen Greene has a great voice, as does the soulful back-up singers that accompany most songs. Steve Martin even manages a decent tune, with his song “Dentist.”

It’s only Rick Moranis, the lead of the movie, that lets it down on the musical front. He is clearly cast for his abilities as the comedy, geeky-loser rather than a great vocalist. It can be jarring but doesn’t necessarily detract from the film too much.

Rick Moranis isn’t the best with his voice

Moranis isn’t the only comedic talent that makes an appearance. There are some great cameos to support the core cast, from John Candy to Bill Murrey. These highlight the fact that the film seems more focused on the comedic elements rather than well-structured musical elements.

This isn’t a bad thing, it’s just that the movie isn’t necessarily very funny. The cast is great with the material they have got but some of the jokes (and songs) don’t seem to transfer from stage to screen very ably. It’s a well constructed musical but not necessarily one that will blow people away.

Overall, Little Shop of Horrors is a solid musical that will useful for anyone wanting an easy route into the movie genre. The songs are catchy and decent, the story interesting and the cast are very well suited. Some of the musical performances fall flat but what is delivered is a good, if somewhat average, musical.

Rating – 3

(1 – Awful, 2 – Average, 3 – Good, 4 – Great, 5! – Must See)

A good, if somewhat average, musical

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