5 Worst Movie Musical Moments

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Music can make or break a movie. In a musical, one bad performance quickly sours the whole lot. In any other movie, an otherwise unnecessary musical number walks a fine line: at best, it’s a heart-warming and endearing character moment. At worst? Five minutes to take a potty break without worry of missing anything important. If you’re watching any of these films, have your earplugs ready.

5 “Music of the Night”

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When Joel Schumacher decided to bring Andrew Lloyd Webber’s successful and long-running musical “Phantom of the Opera,” he brought along a then-unknown Gerard Butler to play the titular lead. Webber’s Phantom is scary: a tortured genius-turned-terrorist who wreaks havoc on the opera house, its performers and patrons before kidnapping a young woman and forcing her to choose between staying with him forever or seeing her lover killed before her eyes. “Music of the Night” should be the height of creepy and fearful tension. But Butler’s slick and stylized Phantom inspires more “aww” than awe.

4 “I Say a Little Prayer”

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This scene, in “My Best Friend’s Wedding,” is not only one of the worst movie musical moments, but also one of the most unrealistic. People who can’t carry a tune never have this much fun singing in public unless also consuming copious amounts of free alcohol. And this sort of behavior in a normal restaurant would result in the whole party getting kicked out on their ears (while the other patrons held their own). But here, the whole restaurant joins in the song, including the wait staff, although clearly no of them would have any idea what’s going on. Fortunately, this rendition of the Burt Bacharach classic was included on the soundtrack, so you can listen to it over and over when you want to feel better about your own singing.

3 “S.O.S.”

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In “Mamma Mia!” Pierce Brosnan is every bit the suave, debonair man who once played James Bond—until he starts singing. This film adaptation of a stage play is less story and more celebrity karaoke of Abba’s greatest hits. For Brosnan, this song was perhaps appropriately titled, because he seems to be in need of emergency assistance of some sort throughout the performance. When he starred in “Die Another Day,” he probably had no idea that day would come less than 10 years later, as he desperately whined “S.O.S.” to an apathetic Meryl Streep.

2 “I Love Rock ‘N’ Roll”

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In 2002, Britney Spears was a pop music sensation—but you wouldn’t know it if you saw this performance, from her movie “Crossroads.” If there’s anything worse than actors who can’t sing pretending they can, it’s seasoned vocalists who are perfectly at ease on stage pretending they aren’t—and this karaoke scene proves it. Given Spears’ unenthusiastic performance, it would’ve made more sense if the lyrics were altered slightly and she sang “I think Rock ‘n’ Roll is okay, maybe.” True, the performance drew an enthusiastic response from the bar goers, but they seemed more interested in her table dancing than her singing.

1 “Javert’s Suicide”

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Director Tom Hopper’s bold decision to have live singing in his film adaptation of the award-winning Broadway musical “Les Miserables” seemed to work out well for everyone in the cast—except Russell Crowe. The role of the single-minded, driven and anger-ridden Javert should have been a cinch for Crowe, but instead his performance came off as weak and whiny. As he sings his final song before jumping off a bridge and plummeting to his death, Crowe takes Javert’s despair and hopelessness and turns it into something sadly sweet and regretful. The only thing impactful about this utterly lackluster performance was the dead splat his body made as it connected with a concrete ledge in the raging river below.

Jennifer Mueller has been writing professionally since 1995, when she began writing a bi-monthly column for "This Week in WNC." Mueller holds a Bachelor of Arts in political science from the University of North Carolina at Asheville and a Juris Doctor from the Indiana University School of Law.

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