Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Now on Netflix: Best Worst Thing That Ever Could Have Happened (2016)

Best Worst Thing That Ever Could Have Happened (2016) - Directed by Lonny Price.

By Kenny Howell

In 1981, a group of talented teenagers got the chance of a lifetime. They were cast in Stephen Sondheim's next big Broadway play, an adaptation of the play Merrily We Roll Along.

It was a story told backwards about a man, now a big Hollywood producer, who left his friends in the theater many years ago to make it big. Director Hal Prince and his team had the idea to have teenagers play these parts, even the adult parts, so we work back to the age they are at the end of the film. It is an interesting conceit, but it did not click with audiences. People walked out of the preview shows, it was retooled, recast, when it finally premiered, it was considered a major flop.

Best Worst Thing That Ever Could Have Happened follows the story of that production, and the cast and crew over 30 years after the disastrous opening. Some have gone on to much bigger things like Jason Alexander (Seinfeld), but others have left the business or taken their talents into other fields. However, the sting of that flop, the one that pretty much all of them thought would make their careers, still hurts after all these years.

The silver lining is that in time, Merrily We Roll Along has become a cult classic and been staged by theaters all over the world. Some even consider it their favorite Sondheim musical. Even some of the original cast's children have played the parts on stage.

Best Worst Thing That Ever Could Have Happened can be a bit straight forward and heavy handed at times, but their is no denying the impact this had on everyone involved. It just shows that even when you have a ton of talent involved, something that seems like it is a can't miss, things just don't quite come together. It happens in the film world all the time. It really delves into the aftermath of that kind of event, and really gets some truth about the toll of the artistic process on its way.

Best Worst Thing That Ever Could Have Happened is now streaming on Netflix.

Rating: ***

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