16 Singing Scenes In Non-Musical Movies That Make Us Say 'WTF?'
Vote up the singing scenes that caught you off-guard.
When you go to see a musical, you fully expect characters to sing, because that's literally the whole point. Much less expected are musical scenes in non-musical movies. When you sit down for a drama or a comedy and someone on screen suddenly bursts into song, it can be a little shocking. Especially if they're not integrated into the story well, these sequences can leave you baffled.
The following movies all have a singing scene that comes in from left field. Several of those scenes, despite being unanticipated, actually serve some kind of valid purpose within the plot. Others are merely awkward, as they don't particularly gel with everything else. Regardless of function, these examples of characters singing in movies that aren't musicals are worth a closer look.
Which musical scenes in non-musical movies make you say “WTF?” the most? Vote up your picks.
Blue Velvet is the darkly fascinating story of two teens, Jeffrey (Kyle MacLachlan) and Sandy (Laura Dern), who find a human ear in a field. Attempting to investigate its origins, they cross paths with nightclub singer Dorothy (Isabella Rosselini), whose husband and son are being held captive by a madman named Frank Booth (Dennis Hopper). Frank decides to allow Dorothy to see them, so he takes her and Jeffrey to the apartment of his associate Ben (Dean Stockwell).
Because this is a David Lynch film, bizarre events occur every few minutes. The stopover at Ben's place is no different. The man holds court when he has visitors, abruptly deciding to lip-synch along with Roy Orbison's song “In Dreams.” A musical interlude in the middle of this intentionally twisted and weird picture may seem inexplicable, but that's the point. Ben does the least likely thing imaginable, and his impromptu performance makes him seem oddly threatening.
- 213 VOTESPhoto: New Line Cinema
Paul Thomas Anderson's 1999 drama Magnolia is a compendium of intertwined stories that follow a group of people living and working in the San Fernando Valley. Tom Cruise plays a motivational speaker with great resentment toward his dying father, William H. Macy is a former child prodigy who has grown up to be an adult loser, and Julianne Moore is a depressed woman who makes an effort to end her own life. These are just three of the characters in the ensemble.
For all its dourness, Magnolia does something thoroughly unpredictable at its midpoint. All of the players have reached some kind of crossroads in their individual dilemmas. Anderson gets the point across via a montage where the actors sing along to Aimee Mann's “Wise Up.” Nothing about the film suggests a musical number will be forthcoming. Nevertheless, it's a potent way of tying the disparate plot threads together, while simultaneously gearing up to resolve them.
Chris Parker (Elisabeth Shue) has what should be an easy task. She has to babysit two kids, Brad (Keith Coogan) and Sara (Maia Brewton). When her friend runs away from home and calls Chris for help, she takes the kids with her on a “rescue” mission. Thus begins a night of comic complications, including a run-in with a bunch of car thieves and a tow truck driver who thinks his wife is cheating on him. Adventures in Babysitting is structured to be a broad comedy about how the responsible Chris has to find ways to keep her charges safe amid increasingly kooky circumstances.
Not much that happens in the movie is all that plausible, even if it's funny. Still, it feels absurd when Chris and the kids end up in a blues club and are prohibited from leaving until they perform with the band. And Chris improvising a blues number about how difficult this babysitting job has been is simply ridiculous. Shue works to make the scene fly with her natural charm, but the sequence stretches the limits of credibility.
- Photo: Universal Pictures
The 40-Year-Old Virgin is a wacky, raunchy comedy about Andy (Steve Carell), the inexperienced guy of the title. Somehow he's gone four decades without ever getting intimate with a woman, and he's not happy about it. When Andy falls for Trish (Catherine Keener), the question becomes whether he will finally gain the experience he's long been dreaming about. First, though, he has to not mess the relationship up.
The movie ends in a suitably quirky fashion. Andy and Trish do the deed, meaning he is a virgin no more. That could have been the end, but there's a sudden swing in a different direction. As they lay in bed, he starts singing “Age of Aquarius” from the musical Hair. All the other major characters in the film - including those played by Seth Rogen and Paul Rudd - launch into an elaborate production number where they join him, eventually segueing into “Let the Sunshine In.” The entire sequence is metaphorical, meant to suggest not only that Andy has finally had sex, but also that it completely rocked his world.
- Photo: Netflix
In Noah Baumbach's Marriage Story, Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson play Charlie and Nicole Barber, a couple in the midst of a bitter divorce. She's the instigator of it. He's in denial about what's happening. The movie follows the interactions that occur between them once their lawyers, played by Alan Alda and Laura Dern, get involved.
Most of the film is an incisive dramatic look at the emotional pain that comes with a divorce. Charlie, in particular, struggles to hold things together and process his feelings. Marriage Story gives him an unlikely catharsis at the end, when he joins friends for drinks at a bar and ends up spontaneously singing Stephen Sondheim's “Being Alive” at karaoke. The sequence is intentionally out of sync with everything else in order to suggest that Charlie is somehow purging himself of unpleasant feelings through song.
- Photo: Miramax Films
Kevin Smith's Jersey Girl is about a widower, Ollie Trinke (Ben Affleck), trying to raise his 7-year-old daughter Gertie (Raquel Castro) on his own. After falling for Maya (Liv Tyler), Ollie has to determine whether starting a new relationship will be helpful or hurtful to Gertie. He finds himself torn between trying to be a good father and a good boyfriend.
So why does the movie end with Ollie onstage singing a song from Sweeney Todd? He opts to go on a job interview the same day that Gertie is supposed to perform in that musical. Feeling guilty, he skips out on the interview, rushes to the auditorium, and runs onstage to show Gertie that he's there and he cares. Jersey Girl is a sweet, sentimental film, so this bizarre ending feels way too jokey and forced to have a genuine impact.