Rent Parent Guide
Parent Movie Review
Receiving an eviction notice after missing a year’s worth of rent payments shouldn’t be surprising. In fact, most of us would expect one after only a month or two of failed dues. But for the tenants of a decaying apartment building, the notice is enough to incite a riot. Lighting fire to a pile of flyers, they set the streets ablaze by throwing the burning papers out the window all while singing out their discontent.
So starts Rent, the musical tale of a year in the life of eight bohemian New Yorkers who somehow eek out an existence in the city’s East Village. Most of them don’t have regular work. Mark Cohen (Anthony Rapp) is an ardent filmmaker who wants to record the plight of the homeless on his block, but doesn’t have a venue to showcase it in. Toting around his handheld camera, he also documents the comings and goings of his friends. He lives with his roommate, Roger (Adam Pascal), an emotionally dead songwriter who has shut out life since his girlfriend died from AIDS. Downstairs lives Mimi (Rosario Dawson), a drug-addicted 19-year-old exotic dancer who dresses in minimal outfits and plies her wares nightly in a strip joint. Mark’s friend Tom (Jesse L. Martin), a computer whiz, is recently back in the neighborhood. He and his drag queen lover, Angel (Wilson Jermaine Heredia), are passionate, physical partners who attend life support classes for HIV victims at a local community center.
Meanwhile, Mark’s former girlfriend Maureen (Idina Menzel) has dumped him in favor of a highly turbulent, sexual relationship with Joanne (Tracie Thoms), a Harvard trained lawyer. Only Benny (Taye Diggs) doesn’t hang out with the group anymore. He married, moved out and now works for the man who wants to renovate the dilapidated complex.
Full of angst and aversion for corporate life, the film’s characters are indisposed to anything that hampers their free spirited lifestyle. Maureen, the flirtatious performer, struggles (and fails) with the idea of saving her kisses and affections for just one person, male or female. Mark feels confined by the demands of a job even if it offers him a chance to tell his stories.
As to be expected, much of the story’s dialogue is revealed in song. Regrettably, these gifted vocalists project their voices like they are still standing in front of a live audience. Belted out at full capacity, the numbers offer little variety in volume or dynamics. Yet from an adaptation standpoint, the long-running play seems to successfully leave behind the confines of the stage and move into actual settings in the city.
Dealing with mature themes, the film has scenes of heavy drug and cigarette use, and portrays addicts shooting up. Dying HIV positive patients battle with the uncertainties and fears of the ravaging disease, and find themselves losing the war. Strong profanities, crude hand gestures and frank sexual comments are included in the script along with sensual interactions between the characters.
Depicting freedom of creative license, unfettered love and the absence of the daily grind as the ultimate form of personal liberty, the play may misguide young viewers by promoting the belief there is no day but today. The tragic realization is that today’s decisions do affect tomorrow. Whether or not these characters connect their choices with the consequences, they’ll still have to foot the bill.
Theatrical release November 12, 2005. Updated April 1, 2009
Rating & Content Info
Why is Rent rated PG-13? Rent is rated PG-13 by the MPAA for mature thematic material involving drugs and sexuality, and for some strong language.
In spite of the PG-13 rating, there are frequent depictions of Mimi purchasing drugs and shooting up (content usually reserved for R-rated titles). Her seductive and lewd dance routine at the bar earns her the money she needs to buy her stash. Numerous same-sex kisses and cross-dressing scenes are portrayed. While violence is relatively brief, one man is mugged and beaten in an alley. He subsequently rigs a bank machine in order to get free cash. Later when Maureen hosts a protest rally, hostility breaks out between the crowd and police. Set in the early era of the AIDS epidemic, the characters worry about the outcome of this disease that is propagated, in part, by their community’s lifestyle. Using crude and explicit dialogue, the characters also display a lack of respect for the livelihoods or reputations of others.
Page last updated April 1, 2009
More parents' guide for Rent after the break...
Rent Parents' Guide
The film’s characters profess there is “no day but today.” While there is some truth to this adage, there are still consequences that result from daily choices. What price does each of the characters pay for their decisions? Why is Benny criticized for the alternative he chooses?
Why does Mark leave his job? What audience does he hope to impact with his independent films? What social statement, if any, is he trying to make?
Why doesn’t the homeless woman want Mark using her in his documentary? Rather than being showcased in his film, what does this woman need to better her situation? Why is it sometimes easier to talk about problems (or film them) than actually deal with them?
The most recent home video release of Rent movie is February 20, 2006. Here are some details…
DVD release Date: 21 February 2006
Rent fans will feel they’ve found the penthouse with this 2-Disc Special Edition featuring over three hours of bonus extras. Much of that time is spent paying tribute to the musical’s creator Jonathan Larson. His story is told in a documentary titled, No Day But Today, which is broken into five-parts: Days of Inspiration(Jonathan Larsons formative years: childhood through college), Leap of Faith (Larsons move to New York City and the projects/experiences that led to the writing of Rent), Another Day (the creation of the musical Rent from conception to final dress rehearsal), Without You (an account of the shows amazing journey from success Off-Broadway to its current status as worldwide phenomenon, all in the wake of Jonathan Larsons untimely death), and Over the Moon (the making of the movie and a tribute to Jonathan Larson).There is also a plug for the Jonathan Larson Performing Arts Foundation: National Marfan Foundation, five deleted scenes and musical performances, as well as a commentary by the director and cast. Audio tracks are available in English (Dolby Digital 5.1) and French (Dolby Digital 5.1), with subtitles in English and French.
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