Thursday, October 27, 2011

Top Hat

I am so ready for the weekend. I have a lot of stuff to take care of, but mostly fun stuff and hopefully it will be full of awesome. I'm excited to sleep in a tiny bit!

I always feel sort of bad when I don't really enjoy a movie, especially one that's funny and sweet. Do I hate fun? It is a real possibility. Today I watched Top Hat, directed by Mark Sandrich in 1935. His name is almost sandwich! Pretty sweet. It's not a bad movie by any means, which is how every post about Fred Astaire movies that I write goes. It's actually really good in every respect, except that I personally don't really like it. I don't know why dance movies don't really work for me. Too happy? Too flimsy of a plot? I don't really like musicals either, so there's just something about this sort of...idea...that doesn't really work for me. Don't get me wrong - I see all the things that make this movie good. The dancing is great and looks impossible, and it does wow me, but it just doesn't really do anything for me.

The plot is really simplistic and is based around a misunderstanding. I find these sort of things frustrating. Dale (Ginger Rogers, which I'm only saying because you might otherwise think that character is a guy) falls in love with professional dancer Jerry. She thinks, though, that Jerry is her friend Madge's husband Horace, so despite their feelings for each other, they don't really get together. The plot is sort of annoying to me because the whole plot could be cleared up in about one line of dialogue, but it never is. Argh.

The dancing is really great, if you like dancing. The numbers are really athletic and look really difficult and intense, but Rogers and Astaire seem to pull it off effortlessly. It's very impressive. And they have really good chemistry together. For people who aren't sacks of surl, it's probably really fun to watch them together, especially in the dance scenes. They are both clearly really talented actors and dancers, and really, for how doofy the plot is, they do a really good job keeping things energetic and fun.

I just didn't feel this movie. I think it's just personal preference, like how some people just aren't into horror movies for whatever reason. I like a lot of different genres, but I really always just seem to dislike anything dance-y or musical-y. I don't really know why, but I don't think that's strange - I know a lot of people who aren't into certain genres but can't really explain why. I think for me, personally, they're too scattered and remind me of a variety show too much. I don't like that the plots are usually really thin and unexciting, and I don't really love the style of music, either. I don't like the way the plots are often cliche but not campy (I can dig groan-inducing camp). I can see why these movies are good, why the actors and dancers are so talented and loved, but I'd never watch the movies again, or be able to say that I really enjoyed watching them. I don't know. It falls sort of flat for me, and doesn't work for me as escapism, which is what Ebert even says is what he likes so much about the film. So that's that, I guess.

Have any thoughts on Top Hat? Share them in the comments!

Ebert's Great Movie Essay on Top Hat
Buy or rent it on Amazon


  1. I remember watching this movie long time ago and I absolutely loved the dances. The movie was good for a while and it felt a little stretched towards the last part. I later came to know that there are nearly 10 movies with Fred astaire and Ginger's combination. Someday want to watch all of them. 

  2. This review really is interesting to compare with Ryan Roach's derogatory review of Swing Time for the AFI Top 100, which is basically about how much "Olden Times" movies suck and are stupid:

    You are a lot more polite and sophisticated in your tastes than him, I'll give you that.