Romeo and Juliet but instead of Montagues and Capulets we’ve got emos and Christians. Instead of fair Verona, we have a clique filled school in Australia. Oh, and it’s a musical. That’s the elevator pitch for Emo The Musical, adapted by writer and director Neil Triffett from his short of the same name, and the end results are even more ridiculous than it sounds.
We begin with Ethan (Benson Jack Anthony) being kicked out of his lovely private school after attempting suicide (in a scene that isn’t anywhere near as dark as it sounds). His new school is light on teachers due to financial issues but is high on drama as the various groups go to war. The biggest conflict is between the emos and the Christians with each side showing nothing but disdain for the other. It is set to climax at the annual rock contest where Doug Skellington (a man so emo he burnt his parent’s coffins on stage and used the ashes for eyeliner) will be in attendance. Unfortunately, Ethan’s place in the emo band, Worst Day Ever, is under threat when he begins to fall for good Christian girl and stealth baptizer, Trinity (Jordan Hare).
Every musical dies or thrives on its songs and Emo The Musical is a bit of a mixed bag. For every ‘Jesus Would Have Been An Emo’ (the track listing doesn’t actually appear to be online, so I’m guessing song titles here), there is a handful that passes you by. Some of the music is deliberately bad and over the top as it implores you to ‘come to church’ or declares that ‘we’re all gonna die’ but there’s a lack of sparkle that hurts the film at times.
Thankfully, it’s more than made up for in the sense of humour. There is no subtlety here. Think of every stereotype about every teenage clique you have ever heard of, and the odds are it will be placed up on screen in front of you. From emo kids drawing scars on their wrists in eyeliner to the Christians’ hating the gays. Some fall flat, but the jokes come at such a pace that the occasional miss is absorbed because the next one has already swung into view.
Even the humour is outshined by the fact that underneath all of that there is a lot of heart here. A heart that declares that maybe we all aren’t that different after all and the emo can be a Christian and the Christian a bit emo. It’s hardly a new message, and you’ll see it in a hundred other teen films, but it never stops being important.
Emo The Musical is far from perfect. Some of the acting is clunky, and the script’s deliberate corniness can get a bit wearing at times. However, it is a whole lot of fun. The screening I was in laughed all the through and its charming – if occasionally slapdash – approach will lead to you rooting for both the characters and the film itself. It will never change the world but it might get a few people to embrace their emo side, and that wouldn’t be the worst thing.
Verdict: Hall of Fame