What makes a great musical? Memorable songs woven into an absorbing plot, for starters.
These My Pope-approved musicals have that and more. Get the popcorn and drinks and park yourselves in front of the TV or computer screen for hours of pure, clean entertainment with your loved ones! Two boast fancy footwork, the other a feel-good finish, and the fourth will have you crying like a baby.
For the perfect throwback musical
An American In Paris (1951) and Singin’ In The Rain (1952) may be old school but they never grow old. The incomparable Gene Kelly stars in both timeless musicals—the first about a World War II veteran reinventing himself as a fine art painter in Paris, the second about an actor at a time when Hollywood was shifting from silent movies to “talkies.” Sing along to catchy tunes like “Our Love Is Here To Stay,” “’S Wonderful,” “Good Morning,” “Make ‘Em Laugh,” “All I Do Is Dream Of You,” and the title track “Singin’ In The Rain” and swoon over the athleticism and grace of the actor’s dance technique. Fun facts: Gene Kelly was reportedly running a 40-degree fever when he performed that classic number in one take! Also, milk was mixed with the “rain water” to make it register better on camera.
For those who like rooting for the underdog
Sing Street (2016) is the story of Irish teen Conor Lawlor (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo), who feels out of place in his dysfunctional home and strict Christian Brothers school. His avenue of self-expression: new wave music. Together with his fellow ‘80s-music-loving pals (and muse Raphina, played by Lucy Boynton of Bohemian Rhapsody, another must-see musical, by the way), Conor makes tacky music videos, vents his thoughts and feelings through song, and shows his family, bullies, and tough schoolmaster Brother Baxter (Don Wycherley) that being your true self is the only way to go.
For those in the mood for animation
Coco (2017) has all the ingredients of a My Pope-approved musical. Stunning and vibrant visuals, equal parts drama, comedy, and action (plus a twist!) in a family-oriented storyline, and of course the rousing music. But fans of this Oscar, BAFTA, and Golden Globe winner for Best Animation are partial to the sentimental song “Remember Me,” sung in the pivotal moment by 12-year-old music lover Miguel to his great-grandma Coco. We’re not crying, you are. The Pixar animation includes the voices of actors Anthony Gonzalez as the young Miguel, Gael Garcia Bernal as Hector, and Benjamin Bratt as Ernesto de la Cruz. While some have said that the film’s interpretation of the afterlife goes against Christian teachings (due to the influence of ancient Mexican beliefs), we resonate with an article by the Catholic World Report that said, “While based on both Christian and pagan concepts, there is nothing in its mythology that strays too far away from natural law, with a few aberrations necessary for the story. While Coco is, overall, pretty good, the conversations it might inspire amongst youngsters and their parents will be even better.” How’s that for some family bonding?