5 Pitch-Perfect Musical Moments In Non-Musical Movies
I would never claim to be a musical devotee, in truth, I’ve only seen a handful of pure musicals. As much fun as an all-singing, all-dancing film can be, I’ve found that I much prefer a well-timed musical interlude in an otherwise non-musical film. There’s just something wonderful about watching a favorite actor unexpectedly burst into song. An isolated musical moment can provide insight into a character, a welcome bit of humor or pathos– sometimes it even does all three at once.
The five I chose for this list are by turns romantic, silly and even a little sad, but they are each in their own way unforgettable.
Stranger Than Fiction taught me two things: Will Ferrell is actually a fantastic actor and putting a guitar in Will Ferrell’s hands suddenly makes him irresistible. Toward the middle of the film, Ferrell’s character, Harold Crick, who has been told through narration that he’s going to die, begins working his way through his bucket list. One of the items on the list is learning to play the guitar, which Harold does, but he only learns one song. That song just happens to be the heartbreakingly romantic “Whole Wide World” by Wreckless Eric.
When Ana (Maggie Gyllanhaal), the woman he has fallen in love with, asks him to play something for her, he declines at first. Then when she exits the room, he begins to play, singing along quietly, all the while keeping his eyes shut. That of course means he can’t see Ana watching him, but we can, and it’s clear her heart is melting. As was mine. It’s the sincerity in Ferrell’s performance that makes the scene work so well. He’s so earnest it’s impossible not to swoon.
Who knew a song that featured the word “decapitation” could be so sweet?
I’m of the firm belief that anytime Jason Segel is allowed to sing good things happen. That is doubly true when he’s singing a song from a musical about Dracula in a bar in a Hawaii. There is a gentle goofiness to the moment that is amplified by the lyrics about a clearly depressed Dracula who longs to decapitate Van Helsing, but what really sells it is the look on Rachel’s (Mila Kunis) face. This is clearly the moment she falls in love with Peter (Segel), and the moment we fall in love with the pair of them.
When he hijacks the school stadium to woo back Kat (Julia Stiles), Patrick (Heath Ledger) proves that the fastest way to get back into someone’s good graces is a well-timed serenade in 10 Things I Hate About You. It’s an old-fashioned grand gesture in a modern film that never fails to make me grin. Everything from the high school stadium setting to the song choice is flawless, but its Ledger’s crooning that provides the wow factor.
From his wobbly start to his showy finish, Ledger provides the film with a truly classic moment.
After sleeping with Summer (Zooey Deschanel), Tom (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) engages in an elaborate song and dance fantasy that’s part Gene Kelly, part Disney while on his way to work the next morning. The scene includes cartoon bluebirds and Tom seeing himself as Han Solo, putting it in the running for the title of most joyful scene of all time.
The scene is also responsible for momentarily making Hall and Oates popular again and making moviegoers long to see Gordon-Levitt star in a proper musical. (That last thing didn’t just happen to me, right?)
Bridget Jones’s Diary opens with the song “All By Myself” playing as we meet Bridget Jones, who is bedecked in Christmas penguin pajamas, drinking wine and watching television. At first, the song appears to be a non-diegetic part of the soundtrack, but as the scene goes on we realize Bridget is actually listening to it. Then she starts to passionately mouth the words and provide accompanying air-drum motions as she sings into a rolled up magazine.
As character introductions go, it doesn’t get much better than that.
There are plenty of musical moments in non-musical films out there, these are just five of my favorites. I would love to hear about some of your favorites in the comments.
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