The Fantasticks Parent Guide
Parent Movie Review
The Fantasticks must live up to its name on the New York stage because it’s the longest running musical in history, having entered its fortieth year. But could the production attract such a healthy audience if put to film? Director Michael Ritchie believed so, and captured the story on celluloid in 1995. But the studio, MGM, had its doubts. After five years of storing Ritchie’s reels, the Lion that once successfully roared many musicals onto the silver screen, was contractually forced to release his work. Industry veteran Francis Ford Coppola, who sits on MGM’S board of directors, was called in to reedit the movie and cut over 20 minutes of not-so fantastic footage.
What’s left is a simple story about a boy named Matt (Joseph McIntyre) and Luisa (Jean Louisa Kelly), the girl who lives right next door. Occupying the only two houses in a wind swept valley that stretches for miles, the pair are madly in love in spite of their bickering fathers Amos (Joel Grey) and Henry (Bernard Hughes). But while they are secretly meeting under the oak tree, what they don’t know is their parents are actually scheming to get them married. The fake feud is only a reverse psychology ploy.
Wanting to provide the catalyst for their offspring to tie the knot, the men employ the mysterious El Gallo (Jonathon Morris), proprietor of a carnival that conveniently rolls into their hamlet, to stage an opportunity for Matt to save his maiden in distress. But when the gig’s over and their parents’ meddling is revealed, the children’s attraction literally fades by the light of the next day. Determined to discover the real world before settling down, Matt and Luisa set off on divergent paths. Perhaps because it is the only show in town, they both end up at the carnival.
In the grand tradition of this genre, their coming of age quest is represented in an artsy musical sequence containing many allegorical elements that provide more questions than answers. The carnies show Matt the raunchier side of mortality by giving him a liquid concoction that induces bizarre images (including two brief shots of men behind wooden cutouts of women with their large breasts exposed), and introduce him to the physical pains of life on the street (such as being beaten up for his wallet and placed on a bed of nails). Meanwhile El Gallo, acting as tour guide, accompanies Luisa on a tunnel of love style ride where she witnesses the trials of Matt, who looks rather mediocre when compared to her devilishly desirable host.
The Fantasticks alerts you to the danger of allowing the lure of adventure to tempt you into faraway pastures while overlooking the good things in your own backyard. So it may be parents who determine if the dark turn in the middle of this other wise beautifully shot and memorably scored musical will prevent it from being a success as a video release, or if MGM’s hesitation is an example of not heeding the warning of the story.Starring Jonathon Morris, Barnard Hughes, Joel Grey. Running time: 86 minutes. Theatrical release January 1, 1995. Updated July 17, 2017
Rating & Content Info
Why is The Fantasticks rated PG? The Fantasticks is rated PG by the MPAA for some bawdy carnival humor.
If you’re a musical lover or are familiar with the play that has run for over 40 years, you may love this charming and beautifully filmed production. However, beware of two short seconds of very sexually suggestive material, and the possibility of being bored to tears if this isn’t your genre.Various sideshow acts prepare to perform, including a man who pounds nails into his nose and another man who eats fire. Adult neighbors argue and call each other names. Old silent movie seen in background of scene has people sword fighting. A sideshow actor fakes having a sword pushed into his abdomen, being choked with a rope around his neck, stabbing a knife into himself, and having another man shoot him. Scene of a girl being kidnapped—audience knows it’s fake, but the girl doesn’t. Man on a stage is attacked and actually injured. A man punches another man.
A couple of innocent remarks are taken in a sexual context by the person listening. Man talks about creating a rape scene, but then explains he means “rape” in its Latin form, meaning “to seize.” Young couple kiss. A fantasy / dance sequence shows an innocent young man discovering the “real” world. In a sideshow setting, he sees two men who have their heads over female wooden cutouts with large breasts—for a brief moment one of the nipples are exposed. Similarly staged short scene has a man dressed as a female dominatrix, who reveals the nipple of the cutout’s breast while making a sexual gesture with his tongue.
At least: 2 minor profanities and 1 term of Deity used as an expletive.
Dad asks son to purchase the kind of cough syrup that puts him right to sleep. A young man is given some sort of drink that induces a weird dream sequence. Lead female character smokes a cigarette.
Page last updated July 17, 2017
More parents' guide for The Fantasticks after the break...
The Fantasticks Parents' Guide
El Gallo suggests, “What at night seems oh so scenic, may be cynic by the day.” How does this describe budding romances? What does The Fantasticks teach about recognizing the difference between infatuation and love?