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Val Kilmer IS Moses
Your July 2009 Unrandom Movie Club Results Are In!

TAGLINE: Two men raised as brothers, divided by destiny.


In the Holyland (Hollywood and Highland), illuminated like a burning bush, is a large billboard TV, and back in 2004 it displayed images of Moses. Singing. On stage. And Moses looked a lot like...Val Kilmer? Wait a second...I believeth that IS Val Kilmer. And lo, the words did appear - "Val Kilmer IS Moses!"

How can I not see this show? How can anyone not see this show??? I mean, "Val Kilmer IS Moses!" With those four little words, I was sure this would be something I'd most likely remember for a long time.

Billboard of The Ten Commandments
So I grabbed a friend and he grabbed a friend and the three of us began our exodus. Our journey came to an abrupt halt when there before us stood formidable mountains. But suddenly, as if by divine intervention, the mountains parted and we were able to travel right through them, joining other caravans through the Cahuenga Pass on the 101 Freeway. Minutes later, we saw it. With its Egyptian decor, it loomed in the distance as if some omnipresent zoning department and developer waved a staff. And as part of this structure there was that large image of Val Kilmer again. We have arrived.
We approached the entry parched and ticketless, but our keen eyes spotted an oasis - card tables with people handing out tickets for those on guest lists. I see hundreds of tickets in neat stacks. I have to hand it to Moses for staying true and not...selling out. We spoke with these Tradesmen:

US: Can we get free entry to see Val Kilmer IS Moses?

TRADESMEN: What company are you with?

US: (Pause, then) Umm, what company do you want us to be from?

TRADESMEN: (With a wink) Variety.

US: We're from Variety.

TRADESMEN: Here you go. Three tickets. Enjoy the show.

So we got in for free so they can paddeth the house, for apparently Moses failed to make a prophet. But so what? Our journey was over. We would, like Moses himself, see The Ten Commandments with our own eyes. And we can spread the word.

And that word is SHIT. What the fuck were they thinking? Val Kilmer is Moses? In a musical? "Holy shit."

And just when I thought it couldn't get any better...I read the program. This show was directed by FROM JUSTIN TO KELLY helmer Robert Iscove. Actually, I can't really say if he did a good job or not, as it sure seemed as if he missed every rehearsal. This Branson-y show looked as if anyone did anything they wanted whenever they wanted, including but not limited to oversinging, high school choreography, chintzy effects, songs that would embarrass Jim Steinman and lyrics so laughable and god-awful that I believe the cast wore so much make-up just to conceal their humiliated faces.

And now, years later, it's
RMC's 10th anniversary and what better way to celebrate than watch this spectacle which defying all logic, some idiot released on DVD in 2006.

The show starts off with a misstep that lets you know you're in for an evening of laughable mediocrity. After the Pharoah Seti, who is apparently radioactive (a cheesy post-production effect on the DVD), demands all Hebrew newborns be killed, Yokebad places her newborn doll into a really fake river downstage. But you can't see the doll moving across the river because Val's teleprompters (probably a necessary afterthought) were obstructing the view. Yes, the very first "effect" of the show didn't work. Way to open big. Anyway, at the other end of the stage the Pharaoh's daughter, Princess Bithia, adopts the doll. And not long after, Val Kilmer IS Moses.

Val Kilmer IS Moses
What follows is a two hour schlock opera, and if you're not totally familiar with the story, the characters get lost and so will you. Sure, you can kind of follow along, but prepare ye to be confused for much of it. For example, when Moses is questioning his identity ("Suddenly I'm feeling alone. Suddenly I feel I'm not at home."), what the hell are the slaves doing? With the bottom halves of their bodies in holes in the stage? Someone said they were stomping grapes and we all laughed. But I think that's really what they were doing.

Some of the heartiest bellylaughs came from the stage effects. The plagues, especially. Oh, and the parting of the Red Sea, which they must have thought was called The Blue Plastic Sea With Wires. (Sing along with Moses! "Nothing we can do but take the leap into the deep!") And let us not rule out the burning bush and the voice of God, which sounded like the voice from that computer software that reads English. And please, don't get me started on the animated frogs...

One thing (okay, the only thing) they did right was cast amazing singers (Val's not terrible, but he is the weak link, sometimes sounding like Peter Gabriel, other times Neil Diamond, but mostly just sounding bland). In fact, about twenty minutes in, then unknown American Idol runner-up Adam Lambert appears as Joshua.
Alisan Porter as Miriam
He sings IS ANYBODY LISTENING, a ballad as smelly and disposable as used Pampers ("You can tie a rock to my soul/but you can't build a prison for my mind, no.") Lambert is no False "Idol." His vocal skills are from another planet, as are those of a lot of the singers in the show, like Alisan Porter, who in another lifetime played the title role in John Hughes' film
CURLY SUE ("She'll Steal Your Heart!"). But sadly, they had to screw that up as well. For there's not a note in the show that isn't oversung or screamed or overly emoted or brimming with enough melismata to make Mariah Carey yell, "Stop it already!"

As killer as the voices are, there's not a song in the show worth spit. It sometimes feels like a SIMPSONS parody of the story of Moses. In fact, I believe I found the animatic storyboards they used for THE TEN COMMANDMENTS: THE MUSICAL (click the last of the three videos in this link):

As we all know, there's nothing better than crappy songs that everyone sings with their eyebrows to make sure you know how sincere they are. And every song sounds like the overproduced songs from the 80s, with the bombast of Bonnie Tyler and the Lynn drum snare hits of a TOP GUN tune. So it's no miracle to learn they were written by 1980s Madonna collaborator Patrick Leonard. The orchestra was in a room somewhere. Why bother? Why didn't they just flip the switch to the drum machine and start the sequencer?

This was accompanied by such deep lyrics as "today the sun touched my face and cried a thousand tears." Didn't you write that poem when you were 7 and a half? Moses may have lived 120 years, but this Moses died in the first five minutes. Every damn song mentions either tears or sand. Many songs do both. And the endless empty and pedestrian similes are enough to make you cringe. Thank lyricist Maribeth Derry for that. She herself, on a DVD extra, beams to us; "...they gave us total freedom...(it's not often) where you have producers that really let you be artists..." Well, Maribeth, maybe not watching over you was the producer's egregious mistake. And if you think I'm being harsh, here's a quote from a review from Talking Broadway: "Maribeth Derry's lyrics are, at best, bad, and at worst, actually offensive."

More Kilmer
"I wouldn't hire you to play Val Kilmer in 'The Val Kilmer Story!'" That was reportedly the line that director John Frankenheimer spat at Kilmer during the filming of THE ISLAND OF DR. MOREAU. Though it may be Hollywood folklore, I believe it to be true. But I kind of like Kilmer. He supports many charities, often without the Bono press, and he redeemed himself the following year with his role as Gay Perry in
KISS KISS BANG BANG. So what if he acts in movies that underperform (to be kind) and suck (to be direct). Does he really deserve to be a punching bag?

Well, yeah. When you sign on for this, you should get shot down. You deserve to be laughed at when you are quoted as saying, "I asked myself whether any project I could develop would have as much impact as playing Moses, and there was no way. I've really tried to capture the essence of the man." Val Kilmer IS embarrassing.

THE TEN COMMANDMENTS: THE MUSICAL is a fulsome endeavor of biblical proportions. A disaster. A catastrophe. And you can carve that in stone. Get it?


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