Sometimes when you walk into a multiplex and decide to see a film, you happen to experience a film that seemed tailor-made for your viewing tastes. Opening Night is one such film that seems to have been created solely for me. Backstage story? Check. People bursting into song when it suits them? Check. JC Chasez playing JC Chasez in a movie about a jukebox musical about one hit wonders? Check. Opening Night is the wonderful, ridiculous, and super irreverent version of Birdman that you didn’t know you needed.
It’s opening night of the jukebox musical One Hit Wonder and things are going awry. Nick (Topher Grace), a former Broadway actor whose last flop has led to him stage managing, has his hands full with a douche-y leading man (JC Chasez as JC Chasez), a growing rivalry between back-up dancers (Taye Diggs and Lesli Margherita) after the former power bottomed the latter’s boyfriend, and his leading lady (Anne Heche) was hit in the head with a pair of fake chopsticks. On top of that he learns that his girlfriend Chloe (Alona Tal) has slept with “the other guy from NSYNC.” Throw all of that together with a temperamental producer (Rob Riggle) and some truly memorable songs, and you’ve got the recipe for a crazy opening night.
There’s a lot to be said for a film understanding exactly what it is and going for it full throttle. Opening Night, in my opinion manages to do just that, often set to the tunes of one hit wonders to themselves. I mean where else can you get a dance battle between the foul-mouthed duo Taye and Lesli in their attempt to seduce a back up dancer (an underused Diego de Touvar) for no reason but to see if the duo can one up each other? This movie is just so feeling its own beat so much that even when it stumbles (the ending is a bit too sappy for a film with such a foul mouth and irreverent style), it manages to still be enjoyable. The script, written by Gerry De Leon and Gregory Lisi, is full of so many wonderful moments and is incredibly quotable.
The main joy one will get from this film is the incredible ensemble of actors saying these wild lines, singing the songs, and behaving badly. Topher Grace plays exasperated very well and you get a sense of just how much his past weighs on him in every interaction he has. My favorites from the supporting cast were Taye, Lesli, and JC, whose performance as himself gets to poke fun at both the boy band image and his own career, with some heartfelt moments.
All in all, Opening Night reminds me so much of Soapdish and has definitely been a festival highlight for me so far.