The numbers fell short for Rent, a musical about oh-so funky New Yorkers dogged by poor money management, drug abuse and AIDS. Perhaps it was the lack of star names - director Christopher Columbus choosing instead to recruit key players from the popular Broadway production. Or perhaps it was because, as most critics found, it was just too "maudlin and meandering".
Five deleted scenes don't add anything to what we've already seen. One of the film's stars Anthony Rapp wanders through falling autumn leaves singing a mournful ditty after a funeral scene, which in an optional commentary, he tells us was achieved by changing the speed of the film to make the leaves fall in time with the music. That's when director Christopher Columbus chips in to say that, actually, they didn't use that take. For one of the scenes, they don't comment at all.
The most interesting thing we learn in this section is why the alternative ending was scrapped. In test screenings, the actors returned to the stage after all their woes to sing one last song (picking up from the opening), but Columbus then realised that this "took the audience out of the emotion of the moment". Of course the emotion most of us were probably feeling at this point was exasperation...
Singing No Praises
Lead players Anthony Rapp and Adam Pascal join Columbus for the main commentary, in which they obliquely defend themselves against the critics. Pascal wonders if the people wanted "more flash and sass with the movie", but insists that its power lies in the "quiet" moments. (Perhaps not what most people might expect from a musical.) Later Rapp has a laugh at some of the more hysterical reactions to the film, revealing, "There's a list of denouncements that we've had from a Christian organisation," apparently one of them for "revelry". Columbus thinks it's a hoot, pronouncing, "I am the new Satan!" After seeing Nine Months, we'd have to agree with you, Chris...
Of course there's also talk about the camaraderie on set, particularly between Rapp, Pascal and Jesse L Martin (Tom Collins) who all lived together while performing the stage show. However, there's surprisingly very little about the process of adaptation. Columbus says only that: "We had to shortcut a few things that were not really explained in the play," such as the relationship between Mimi (Rosario Dawson) and Angel (Wilson Jermaine Heredia).
Except for a gallery of trailers, that's it for this DVD. It's hardly worth making a song and dance about.