uk cinemas listings

UK Cinemas

Cinema listings with film information and movie reviews

Entertainments Search:

The Fantasticks

"Romeo and Juliet" with a parental twist, set in the 1920s Midwest as a musical. Who thought of this?


Based on the longest-running show in the history of the U.S. stage, "The Fantasticks" is the story of two fathers (Brad Sullivan and Broadway legend Joel Grey) who enlist a traveling carnival's magician (Jonathon Morris) to get their two children, Matt (Joe McIntyre, late of New Kids on the Block) and Luisa (Jean Louisa Kelly), together with an elaborate scheme. Drama and musical numbers ensue.


The actors should have stuck to singing, which is solid throughout the film. The movie is almost enjoyable when the young, appealing leads (McIntyre could have started a second career with 'N Sync, except that he can sing) fall in love and convey this through song ("Try to Remember" and "Soon It's Gonna Rain" are particularly good). But the movie stops abruptly when the cast must fill the voids in between the musical numbers with plain old acting. Kelly alternates between grating and overly sweet delivery, and her high falsetto, which would have worked well on stage, is painful to hear on the big screen.


Michael Ritchie ("The Positively True Adventures of the Alleged Texas Cheerleader-Murdering Mom") hits a sour note with "The Fantasticks." The big-screen transition is bumpy, with many scenes feeling stage-like and disjointed. The actors actually look lost at times, seemingly wondering how they got from their country homes to a carnival and then to an isolated prairie road.

Bottom Line

A line in "Try to Remember" conveys the theme of "The Fantasticks": "Without a hurt the heart is hollow." If so, this painful film adaptation should fill all but the most aching void in one's soul.


Starring Joel Grey, Barnard Hughes, Jean Louisa Kelly, Joseph McIntyre and Jonathan Morris.

Directed by Michael Ritchie. Written by Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt. Released by MGM.