West Side Story, my love/hate & family friendly review

Disney Studios (!!!) invited me to preview the new West Side Story film, directed by Steven Spielberg.  I hopped in Thumbelina the minivan, grabbed my aunt, and off we went to the Fox Studio lot in Hollywood.  Like actually on the lot, and I will not even pretend that I was cool about it.  By reading beyond this point, you are agreeing to my use of commissioned links, and my updated privacy policy (found here).

There were very very fancy reviewer types there, and I furiously tried to remain calm (which was challenging without movie snacks), while eavesdropping like a mom dropped into a fancy environment after chilling during a lockdown raw situation for two years with three kids.  I digress...

The lot was very cool, I was able to stealthily (LOL NOT) take pictures of sets, costume trailers, and generally break my neck while walking around.  We got very lost on the way to the theater, oooooops, I guess we will wander around until we find it.  Super cool.  Now to the nitty gritty.

When does West Side Story come out?  December 10, 2021.

Here is the official trailer for West Side Story:

The runtime for West Side story is 2.5 hours.  I generally prefer a much shorter movie, as there isn't much I want to do for that long.  Is this just me?  It is obviously a musical, though one I have never seen before.  I am not a movie musical buff, and I purposefully did not watch the original because I wanted to go in with a clear vision of this film and no preconceptions.

The Good, the Bad, and the Other about West Side Story.

The Good:

The visual effects were amazing, but you would expect that in a film with such creative heavyweights behind it (Spielberg, HELLOO!).  The sets were gritty, cool, and surprising at times.  In one scene, dirt, you know, the kids are tracking around, serves as a choreography tool!

Just stunningly beautiful

The music? I mean it's SONDHEIM!  When the audience saw his name in the credits, everyone applauded.  It was really something to see a last homage to a musical giant.  The vocals were quite good throughout.  The part of Maria (Rachel Zegler) was sung with glorious precision, and at times I was shocked at what came out of that tiny body.  Also Valentina, played by the absolutely breathtaking Rita Moreno, stole the show.  Flipping hands down.  When she sang her final number, I almost cried, and this woman is 89 years old!  

The dancers were impressive highlighting the film with incredible group choreography.  If you love musicals, this one is a winner.

This whole dance sequence with the two gangs was impressive.

The Bad:

It was too long.  Within the first hour or so, I actually checked my watch.  It was entertaining, but developed too slowly for me.  Remember my furious eavesdropping?  The fancy reviewers said it was classing Spielberg.  Clearly going to win an Oscar.  Which for many reasons, he should.  Run time though is not one of them.

The cast was meh.  I really don't understand the male casting at all. The best of them was Ansel Elgort (Tony), but the rest of them were generally neither very attractive nor compelling.  None of them were the next Natalie Wood (she originally played Maria).  That was actually very disappointing for me.  Steven Spielberg has been dreaming of doing a musical for most of his career, and these actors just didn't bring it for me.  

This is not family friendly.  Very dramatic rape scene, graphic violence with weapons and bodies, and graphic death.  No way would I even take my 11 year old, and she has seen all of the Marvel movies.  

The conclusion:

If you are a Steven Spielberg fan, or just a fan of beautifully made movies, you will love West Side Story.  If you love musicals, I think that this is a winner for you.  My hubby, who is a musical theater lover (and participated in school) will like this movie.  The bro down the street.  Ummmm, no way.  I'm sorry to say that this one isn't a family friendly movie.  Unless your girls are musical lovers, I don't even think its a great girls night movie because of the lack of eye candy. Let's just BE REAL.

The ladies stole the show!

With all of that negativity, I walked out of the theater thinking that I had seen something special.  It just took 2/3 of the movie to find it.

I cannot WAIT for you guys to see this movie and tell me your thoughts.

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