The trailer for the new Netflix movie 13: The Musical was released, and Redditors already have strong opinions about it. The 2008 Broadway musical had an original score by acclaimed contemporary composer Jason Robert Brown, along with a rookie cast that included none other than Ariana Grande.
The new movie, one of several recent Netflix musicals, will be released on the streaming platform on August 12. 13: The Musical follows a young Jewish teenager who is planning his Bar Mitzvah party in his new hometown in Indiana. Based on the following initial reactions to the trailer alone, there will be passionate and even divisive feelings about the new movie.
Jason Robert Brown has composed a number of critically acclaimed musicals, including the last five years, Stopand The Madison Country Bridges. 13: The Musical can give him the mainstream exposure his die-hard fans have been waiting for.
Lynchiannightmare25 touched on this when they wrote, “I just want Jason Robert Brown to have the big commercial success he deserves.” One of his other film adaptations, the last five Years, showed promise, with Anna Kendrick and Jeremy Jordan in the lead roles, but it didn’t have the same cultural impact that the show had with musical theater fans.
Those familiar with the source material were quick to comment on Reddit about some of the lackluster elements from the original musical’s book that people are hoping will be improved upon in the film version. One Redditor described how the characters’ feelings towards the female lead, Patrice, don’t make sense: “It’s just a very contrived ‘she’s a NERD and we hate her’ plot that doesn’t even mimic high school malice well.”
Perhaps including more dialogue in the film will help add more dimension to the characters, especially with regards to why Patrice is treated so poorly. Even though the movie is intended to be fun and lighthearted, the characters’ motivations are important, and it’s pretty one-dimensional to portray bullies with little reasoning behind their actions. This Redditor will have to wait and see if the characters have, in fact, received additional layers.
The trailer for the summer release of 13 seems to suggest that screenwriter Robert Horn updated the story to take place in the present day. This doesn’t substantially change the story, although some Reddit users have noticed minor changes only in the trailer.
The most obvious change is that in the original musical, no adults appear on stage. The trailer, however, includes several adult characters, including Rabbi Shapiro (Josh Peck) and Evan’s mother (Debra Messing). Success_Tale_9334 is “already upset about any book/script change”, although this is common for especially theatrical musicals like 13 be significantly altered to cinematographic form.
Many fans expressed their disapproval of the production value of 13: The Musicalcomparing the trailer unfavorably to a Disney Channel Original Movie. Spoilz humorously replied bluntly: “Oof. [This is] giving the Disney Channel Original Movie budget level.”
Several other Redditors made the same comparison. To be fair, the original 13 was written during the same time as the original Musical High School films, which were widely popular and launched the careers of Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens. Perhaps these users are not just responding to production value, but also to the tone and mood of a play that was conceived in the heyday of Disney Channel Original Movies.
A frequent review of teen movies and television shows includes the cast of older actors playing younger roles. This has become common practice, but younger audiences often have trouble relating to characters who are supposed to be their age but look significantly older. This was a common criticism of the Ryan Murphy series, Happiness.
Many Nectarines responded favorably to the 13 trailer, saying, “I really think this looks cute! I like that they have real kids that look like kids. Even when I was a kid, I felt like kids on TV and in movies never looked like kids.” This identifying factor is the key to the success of a project and gives a sense of authenticity to the portrayal of youth on screen.
Much has evolved since 2008, when the original 13 debuted. In fact, content with young people is considerably different in Gen Z culture compared to what was current for millennials. Oscar fan redditor talks about this point, writing, “I’m curious how this will turn out; teen culture has changed a much in so little time.”
Programs like those nominated for the Emmy Euphoria contain frank and disturbing representations of adolescence. With that in mind, while it is clear that the target demographic 13 changed, what remains unclear is whether this audience will respond well to a smooth and pleasant depiction of teenage youth.
It didn’t take long for the Reddit thread on 13: The Musical to turn into a discussion of Ariana Grande, who had one of her first shows in the original Broadway production. Grande played Charlotte, a cheerleader and member of the “cool group” of high school friends. Although her role was relatively minor, she provided lead vocals on the final number “Brand New You”.
the trailer for 13: The Musical did not feature any cameos from the original cast, much to the chagrin of Grande’s fans. Jan1171 wonders “if Ariana will be involved in any way in this, or the press campaign.” One would think that a nod to the pop star would be a smart way to bring massive publicity and attention to the film, but maybe Grande is busy getting ready for the film. Evil movie.
Redditor Obvious Detail 2887 said it best by expressing that between 13: The Musical and the new film version of Matilda, with Emma Thompson as Miss Trunchbull, “Netflix is in a movie musical.” These two upcoming movies are the latest in a trending genre for the streaming service.
Netflix Found Success With Big-Budget Musical Films Like Ryan Murphy The prom in 2020 and, more recently, the directorial debut of Lin-Manuel Miranda, Tic, Tic… Boom! The latter film secured two Oscar nominations, including a Best Actor nomination for Andrew Garfield. 13: The Musical it may not be prize bait, but given the genre’s success for Netflix, time will tell.