Review by Adam Donato
The best and worst thing for the marketing of this remake is that the original film was directed by Steven Spielberg (who also serves as a producer here). It puts butts in seats, but it also comes with lofty expectations. Luckily, there’s full support from the stars of the original. Still, remake holds its own because the changing of the genre. Who doesn’t like musicals? It seems a good chunk of audiences don't, as studios are disguising their musicals as regular movies. The Color Purple is the least of these recent offenders as the music is front and center in the marketing. Will this musical push pay dividends, or should this story have stayed in the eighties?
Like it or not, the theater experience is a communal one. Some movies capture the passion of audiences in an almost interactive way. The Color Purple is sure to inspire elation from its audience as it is a full meal of a movie. The tragedy is heartbreaking. The struggle is torturous. The pursuit of justice is a triumph. The music puts an exclamation mark on all of these emotions. The story is one most of the target demographic has probably seen before, and they're rewarded with little winks to the original film. Save movies like The Holdovers for midweek afternoons, The Color Purple is for Friday night. It's sure to inspire people to feel their hearts out and join in on the fun.
When it was announced there was a remake of The Color Purple, it was refreshing to hear they're coming at the story from a new angle. The musical aspect of the movie makes the story more upbeat than the original, which can sometimes conflict with a story mainly about female suffering. This line is toed well, though, as the music emphasizes how uplifting the story is supposed to be. The most fun number is "Hell No!" by Danielle Brooks. Meanwhile, the most powerful number comes from Fantasia Barrino with "I'm Here." While it does come too late in the story, it's such a triumphant number.
Barrino and Brooks are definite stars in The Color Purple. Barrino is the more likely of the two to get nominated, but it would be no surprise to see Brooks getting a Supporting Actress nomination. What Barrino brings to the lead role is special. She has the kind of smile that looks like she's holding in a laugh. It's very infectious. Especially since it's a character that faces so many hardships, when the audience gets to see her smile, it's a blessing. These are two smaller-time actresses who hopefully get more of the spotlight going forward after these standout performances. The rest of the cast was good as well, including Colman Domingo and Taraji P. Henson. Hopefully, musical regulars of today, like Halle Bailey and Corey Hawkins, will keep the ball rolling as well.
The Color Purple gives a musical adaptation that stands on its own with the original. The songs bring life to a sad tale, and the new cast is exciting. There's a world where this movie dominates the Christmas box office and sneaks its way into the Best Picture race. While the public opinion of musicals has not been too favorable, musicals like this are going out of their way to make a case for their continuation.
The Color Purple hits theaters on December 25.