Little Shop of Horrors
Having seen both films in their entirety, however, we feel fairly qualified to review the 1986 musical, which is really the better of the two. The original film is difficult to watch for a number of reasons, not least of which is the fact that the actor who plays Seymour is even more annoying than Rick Moranis, if you can believe that. The musical, on the other hand, has far too many songs towards the beginning that don't really advance the plot, so skipping ahead to the dentist song is really preferable.
The shop in the title is Mushnik's flower shop, where the sometimes-tyrannical Mr. Mushnik struggles to get ahead peddling his flowers to the neighborhood. In his employ are Audrey (Ellen Greene) and Seymour Krelborn (Moranis). In an attempt to impress Audrey and keep his job, Seymour adopts a strange plant from the market. The plant, which he dubs "Audrey II," begins to wither and die until Seymour figures out what it eats: human blood. Business starts booming as people flock to the shop to see the amazing plant, unaware of its gruesome diet.
Little Shop is quite the departure for director Frank Oz, who previously had only been associated with Muppets projects and his work as Yoda in the Star Wars films. Here, Oz shows his ability not only to direct actors made of flesh instead of foam, but also to direct a musical. The result is remarkably charming. While Audrey II is the centerpiece of the film, the scenes without the giant puppet are equally entertaining. The off-center humor of the movie continues apace without the giant props, and Oz has populated the film with main actors and cameo celebrities who can carry it off. Bill Murray puts Nicholson to shame when he revisits the role of the masochistic dental patient in one of Little Shop's best scenes.
The music, too, deserves special mention. The late Howard Ashman and composer Alan Menken (both of Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast fame) have provided the filmmakers with an amazing set of songs to move the action along.
"Audrey sounds an awful lot like Elmer Fudd. Hey, how do you figure he'd sing that song?"
Okay, maybe you had to be there. But just wait until you hear Sylvester the Cat sing "Some Place That's Green"!
Review date: 7/10/98
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