Hello, Dolly! is a movie I’ve watched many many times before, so it might seem a bit strange to be reviewing it now. But I came across it on Disney+ of all places, and I was waiting for Denisa to come up to watch something, so I thought I’d watch the first few minutes. Two and a half hours later, and I’d blown right past my bedtime to finish it. I realize that having grown up with it, I might not be able to give a truly unbiased take on it, but there are plenty of movies I watched when I was little that I rewatched and didn’t enjoy.
Hello, Dolly! is not one of them.
One of the reasons is perhaps because this is the first time I’ve watched it on anything other than VHS. The movie was the most expensive musical when it was filmed, costing around $175 million in today’s dollars. You can completely see it when you watch it in high definition on a large screen. There are so many details in all the shots. The dance numbers are incredible. If you haven’t seen the film for a while, or are used to watching a cruddy copy, you should definitely give it another go.
Is the musical flawless? Well, no. I mean, it’s got many of the same problems classic musicals have with sexism and other PC issues. (Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, anyone?) It also has the common problem of casting a young woman as the love interest of an older man. (Streisand was 27 when she filmed the movie. Matthau was 49. They famously didn’t get along at all during the filming, either.) As a side note, more and more I’m finding when I rewatch movies that I watched a ton as a kid how disturbing it can be to find out how old the actors were in the film. Matthau was only 49? Sheesh. Doc Brown in Back to the Future? 47.)
But if you can look past the issues the film has, understanding they were a product of their time, then I think there’s a lot to enjoy here. It won three Oscars and was nominated for Best Picture. It was directed by Gene Kelly and has supporting actors in Michael Crawford and Tommy Tune (who’s 6’6″ and paired with a love interest who’s 4’10”. Maybe Hollywood just likes contrasts).
I realized once again that there were some numbers I would just fast forward through as a kid. Nothing like some selective “skim through the boring stuff.” I have no idea how the movie would have played for my kids. Like I said, it was such an impulse watch, I didn’t even consider waiting for the whole family. So we’ll have to wait for another time through it to decide whether it still has play for the youth of today, but speaking as someone who loved it when he was young, it’s still a lot of fun now. 8/10, and a lovely bonus to find on Disney+, making me look forward to seeing some more Fox gems come out on the service in the coming years.
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