What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Funny Lady is theatrical-style musical with lots of singing and dancing, a somewhat grown-up love story that includes infidelity, and a very glamourous look at Depression era show business. The women wear flashy clothes: showgirls in revealing, outrageous costumes; Streisand as Fanny Brice wears plunging necklines and shows lots of leg. Almost everyone smokes almost all of the time as was common during the 1930s. There is some social drinking, but no drunkenness. Occasional swearing throughout: "Goddamn," "bastard," "screw," and "ass" are heard numerous times, plus some insults, both English and Yiddish.
What's the story?
It's 1930. The Great Depression rages through the United States, sending even the most successful impresarios of the New York stage into bankruptcy. In this sequel to Funny Girl, Fanny Brice (Barbra Streisand), one of Broadway's brightest musical comedy stars, is reeling after her divorce from con artist and gambler Nicky Arnstein (Omar Sharif). With Fanny's career in the doldrums and her heart broken, Billy Rose (James Caan), a brash, talented composer and entrepreneur, urges her to join him in a spectacular new Broadway venture. Once again Fanny's star rises, this time with Billy's dynamic, though often naive optimism leading the way. Billy falls in love with Fanny. She agrees to marry him, though she's still bewitched by the charming Nicky. Their relationship is tested soon after the wedding by career and circumstances which find them living thousands of miles apart. The fragile marriage reaches a flashpoint when Nicky appears to test Fanny's resolve and Billy's willingness to accept her limited commitment.
Is it any good?
FUNNY LADY is filled with glitz, glamor, stunning costumes, breathtaking music and dance of the 1930s and 40s -- and with the astonishing talent of Streisand. She's in fine comic form: her voice soars, she never disappoints. The screenplay, however, which veers wildly from the actual facts of Fanny Brice's life, is less than stellar, and not up to the standard set by the original, Funny Girl. The love story moves in fits and starts, with scenes seemingly dropped in at different points in the relationship -- sometimes after lots of time has elapsed. As a result, there's no flow, no true emotional arc, and the audience cannot ever fully invest in Fanny's story.
But the story is secondary; it's not what draws people to this movie. Streisand's performance, the vibrancy of the music -- particularly the standards which bear composer Billy Rose's name -- and the wonderful production numbers make the film well worth the time for grownups and older kids who appreciate musical theater.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about how biographical movies (both musical and dramatic) often alter the truth in order to make a more entertaining story. Where can you look to find the true story? In what movies would that be important to you?
In addition to being a very talented comic and singer, the real Fanny Brice was considered "a woman ahead of her time." In what ways do you think this is true? Which current celebs or actors do you think are ahead of their time?