Musicals:
feature films
/ stage / television / web

Musical theatre has been around in its modern form since the 19th century, though of course there have been similar forms of theater involving music since ancient times. Alas, I never get to see theater of any kind, musical or otherwise. So my exposure to the musical genre comes pretty much exclusively from film, or TV. Of course, there are lots of films that include songs, but usually these are just part of the soundtrack, or the background, and not something actually performed by the actors (and often not even heard by the characters). Such movies are not musicals, so I won't list them here. I'm also hesitant to include most movies or shows where it makes sense that the characters sing (i.e., backstage musicals), as opposed to works in which pretty much anyone can spontaneously break into song at any given moment to express their innermost thoughts and emotions, as if it were something people did in real life. As if lyrics and vocalization and choreography came naturally, without the need for things like writing and rehearsal. So basically, that's what I consider "musicals": things where the singing and dancing are spontaneous and unrealistic.

I already have a category in my movie reviews section for musical films, and I'll include the movies from that category here. But there are other movies I've reviewed that I don't include in that section, which might be considered musicals. For example, I rarely bother considering animated movies to be musicals, because I'm just so used to expecting singing in such movies, particularly Disney movies, to the point that I forget it's not realistic. (This is perhaps made easier to forget because the movies may contain so many other elements that are equally or even more unrealistic.) But it's not just animated movies I often fail to think of as "musicals," so... I'll do my best to include everything here that might qualify. (TV movies & plays will be included on the appropriate pages, as linked above.) I also originally included things on this page that I haven't seen yet (or haven't written reviews of), but I later moved them here.


Aladdin (animated film)
Released in 1992, the film is based on an 18th century folk tale, of which there have been numerous adaptations. The songs (which I love) were composed by Alan Menken, Howard Ashman, and Tim Rice. The first sequel had songs written by Mark Watters, and the second had songs by Watters and Carl Johnson.

All Dogs Go to Heaven (animated film)
Released in 1989, the film is an original story with original songs. The songs were composed by Ralph Burns, Charles Strouse, T.J. Kuenster, Joel Hirschhorn, and Al Kasha.


An American Tail (animated film)
Released in 1986, the film is the original production of the story. I don't normally think of this as a musical, but... it obviously is. It has some very memorable and likable songs (composed by James Horner), which are definitely a big part of what makes the movie so great.


Annie (live action film)
Released in 1982, the film is an adaptation of Charles Strouse and Martin Charnin's 1977 stage musical, which itself was based on Harold Gray's comic strip "Little Orphan Annie" (which I haven't read), which debuted in 1924. There's a 1999 TV movie remake and a 2014 theatrical remake, neither of which I've seen.


Babes in Toyland (live-action film)
Released in 1961, the film is based on Victor Herbert's 1903 operetta (which I've never seen). There have been various adaptations before and since this film, but this is the only one I've seen.


Back to the Beach (live-action film)
Released in 1987, the film is an original story based on the 1960s "Beach Party" movies (see below). It may not technically be a musical, because more often than not (or perhaps even always), the songs occur fairly naturally within the story. However... the story itself isn't particularly realistic, in some ways. So, whatever, I just kinda feel like including it in this list. Um... most or all of the songs were pre-existing, I think. Maybe there were some original songs. Anyway, I liked them all.


Beach Party movies (live-action films)
A series of films released during the 1960s, the movies are original stories, with original songs.


Beauty and the Beast (animated film)
Released in 1991, the film is based on a fairy tale that dates back to at least 1740. There were probably musical versions of the story before this movie, but I daresay this is the best-known musical version. Certainly I quite like the songs, which were compsed by Alan Menken & Howard Ashman. It later spawned a stage musical (which I've never seen).

Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas (animated film)
Released in 1997, this is set in the middle of "Beauty and the Beast." It has songs written by Rachel Portman and Don Black.


Charlotte's Web (animated film)
Released in 1973, the film is based on E. B. White's 1952 children's book (which I have thus far never read). I really don't think of this much as a musical, but I guess it kind of is. The songs (composed by the Sherman Brothers) are decent, though not great. And most of the story is non-musical. (That's true of a lot of movies on this list, but some of them I still manage to associate more with music than I do this film.) I suppose to some extent the sequel could also be called a musical, but I barely think of that movie at all, let alone worry about whether I should consider it a musical.


Chicago (live-action film)
Released in 2002, the film is an adaptation of John Kander/Fred Ebb/Bob Fosse's 1975 stage musical, which itself was based on Maurine Dallas Watkins's 1926 play, which was based on real events. The film is the only version I've seen, and I don't remember it well.


Cinderella (animated film)
Released in 1950, the film is based on a fairy tale that dates back to at least 1697. There have been countless adaptations before and since this film, any number of them musicals. It features original songs composed by Mack David, Jerry Livingston, and Al Hoffman.


Corpse Bride (animated film)
Released in 2005, the film is, I guess, sort of based on Jewish folklore, though I'm fairly sure this is the first musical version of the story. I'm afraid I don't remember any of the songs (composed by Danny Elfman), but I'll probably re-watch the movie someday, and maybe then I'll find it (and the songs) more memorable.


Enchanted (live-action/animated film)
Released in 2007, the film is a fairly original story, but also an homage/parody of classic animated Disney films (which are based on fairy tales). The songs are also original (composed by Alan Menken & Stephen Schwartz), but also sort of homages to the kind of songs featured in animated Disney films. And they're pretty fun.


Frozen (animated film)
Released in 2013, the film is loosely based on Hans Christian Andersen's 1844 fairy tale "The Snow Queen." It has original songs composed by Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez. They also wrote a new song for a 2015 short called Frozen Fever. A second short, from 2017, Olaf's Frozen Adventure, features new songs written by Elyssa Samsel and Kate Anderson.


Grease (live-action film)
Released in 1978, the film is based on Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey's 1971 stage musical (which I haven't seen). The movie spawned a sequel in 1982, Grease 2, with songs compsed by Louis St. Louis.


Hairspray (live-action film)
Released in 2007, the film is an adaptation of Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman's 2002 stage musical, which itself was based on John Waters's 1988 film (which I haven't seen).


Hercules (animated film)
Released in 1997, the film is loosely based on Greek mythology. It features songs composed by Alan Menken and David Zippel.


The Hunchback of Notre Dame (animated film)
Released in 1996, the film is based on Victor Hugo's 1831 novel (which I have thus far never read). There have been numerous adaptations of the novel before and since this one, some of which may have been musicals. I really have no idea, this is the only version of the story I've seen. And I don't really remember the songs (which were composed by Menken & Schwartz).


Idlewild (live-action film)
Released in 2006, the film is the original production of the story. I don't really think of it as a musical, because most or all of the songs (composed by OutKast) are performed by characters who are singers, so they occur naturally within the story. But some people consider it a musical, I guess. Sort of.


Jack and the Cuckoo-Clock Heart (animated film)
Released in 2013, this film was based on the 2007 book and concept album "La Mécanique du Cœur," by French band Dionysos. I want to say that most of the songs in the film don't seem to actually be sung by the characters, exactly. I mean, at least one song is, but the others are more like background songs that are sung by the voice actors, from the perspective of their characters, to provide some narrative for the scenes. So... you might say the songs represented the characters' inner monologues, or something. I guess.


John Henry (animated short film)
This had a very limited release in 2000, before being released on video in 2002. It's based on the folk legend of the same name, and features original songs written by Gary Hines and Billy Steele. Although I just barely think of it as a musical... I think maybe one (or part of one) song is sung in the movie by one character, actually onscreen. (And one or more by the same character, offscreen). Most of the songs (not that there are many, because it is just a short film) are more like background music that help tell the story. Still, the music is all good enough that I wanted to mention it here, whether the film technically qualifies as a musical or not. (Certainly it has the feel of something that probably would be a musical, if it were feature length.)


Journey Back to Oz (animated film)
Released in 1972 or 74 (I'm not sure which), the film features songs written by Sammy Cahn and Jimmy Van Heusen.


The Jungle Book (animated film)
Released in 1967, the film was inspired by stories by Rudyard Kipling. It features original songs by the Sherman Brothers, and one by Terry Gilkyson (The Bare Necessities, which is probably the most memorable song in the film).


Lady and the Tramp (animated film)
Released in 1955, the film is, as far as I know, a sort of original story, though it may have been inspired by some earlier things, to some degree. Anyway, I really don't think of it as a musical, and there are at least a couple of songs that occur naturally enough in the story. But there are some others that are less natural (but still likable). So I guess it's sort of a musical. The songs were written by Peggy Lee and Sonny Burke.


Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Return (animated film)
Released in 2013 (2014 in the U.S.), the film is based on Roger S. Baum's book "Dorothy of Oz" (which I haven't read). It features original songs written by Tift Merritt, Bryan Adams, Jim Vallance, Jim Dooley, and Mike Himelstein.


The Lion King (animated film)
Released in 1994, the film was to some degree inspired by Shakespeare's play "Hamlet," and maybe some other stuff. But the story told in the movie is different enough that I'd say it's pretty original. Certainly I quite like the songs, which were composed by Tim Rice and Elton John. It later spawned a stage musical (which I've never seen).


The Little Mermaid (animated film)
Released in 1989, the film is based on Hans Christian Andersen's 1837 fairy tale. There have been numerous adaptations before and since this film. The songs (which I love) were composed for the film by Alan Menken and Howard Ashman. The film also spawned direct-to-video sequel and prequel movies.


Little Shop of Horrors (live-action film)
Released in 1986, the film is an adaptation of Menken & Ashman's 1982 stage musical, which itself was based on a 1960 non-musical film. Thus far, the 1986 film is the only version I've seen, but I might check out the 1960 film someday. Anyway, I really like the songs.


Mary Poppins (live-action film, with a bit of animation)
Released in 1964, the film is based on P. L. Travers's series of children's books which began in 1934 (none of which I've read, though I might like to, someday). Of course I love the songs (composed by the Sherman Brothers).


Moana (animated film)
Released in 2016, the film features original songs composed by Lin-Manuel Miranda, Mark Mancina and Opetaia Foa'i.


Moulin Rouge! (live-action film)
Released in 2001, the film is fairly original, though somewhat inspired by an ancient Greek tragedy, I guess. (There were several movies with this title before this movie, none of which I've seen, but I don't think this movie is related to any of them.) Most or all of the songs are covers, medleys, or reworkings of pre-existing songs. They're all pretty good.


Mulan (animated film)
Released in 1998, the film is based on an ancient Chinese legend. It features original songs composed by Matthew Wilder and David Zippel.


Muppet movies (live-action/puppetry films)
A series of films, the first of which was released in 1979. Some of them are fairly original, some of them are loose adaptations of older novels. I don't really feel like listing the movies here individually, but most or all of them have musical numbers, some of which occur naturally and some which are less natural. But they're pretty much all good.


The Music Man (live-action film)
Released in 1962, the film is an adaptation of Meredith Willson's 1957 stage musical (which I haven't seen). There was also a 2003 TV movie version, which I haven't seen and probably never will. I definitely like some of the songs in the movie.


My Little Pony: Equestria Girls (animated film)
Released in 2013, this is the first in a series of films spun off from the TV series My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. It has original songs composed by Daniel Ingram. The second film, Rainbow Rocks, also has songs, though I don't quite think of it as a musical, because the plot is about a battle of the bands (so the songs mostly occur naturally). But the third film, Friendship Games, is definitely a musical, as is the fourth, Legend of Everfree.


My Little Pony: The Movie (animated film)
Released in 2017, this theatrical film is based on the TV series My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. It has original songs composed by Daniel Ingram, as well as one by Sia. And a couple other things.


The Nightmare Before Christmas (animated film)
Released in 1993, the film is pretty much the original production of the story. It has a bunch of great songs (composed by Danny Elfman), and is one of the few animated films I've never once hesitated to consider a musical.


No Dames! (live-action film scene)
From 2016, this is one scene from the movie Hail, Caesar!, which is set at a Hollywood studio in 1951. In the movie, we see scenes from various movies the studio is producing, including this musical. The original song was composed for the film by Henry Krieger and Willie Reale.


The Nutcracker in 3D (live-action/CGI film)
Released in 2009 (in Europe), the film is based on the 1892 ballet "The Nutcracker." It has new songs written by Tim Rice, based on the original music by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky.


Oliver & Company (animated film)
Released in 1988, the film is based on Charles Dickens's 1838 novel "Oliver Twist" (which I have thus far never read). There have been numerous adaptations of the novel before and since this movie, some of which must have been musicals. But I'm pretty sure all the songs in this movie are unique to this production. And I like them.


The Phantom of the Opera (live-action film)
Released in 2004, the film is an adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Webber's 1986 stage musical, which itself is based on a 1909-10 novel by Gaston Leroux (which I haven't read). There have been numerous adaptations of the novel, some of which were musicals and some that weren't. Thus far, this movie is the only version I've seen, but I might like to see some other versions, from like 1925, 1943, maybe 1962....


The Phantom Tollbooth (live-action/animated film)
Released in 1970, the film is an adaptation of Norton Juster's 1961 children's book. It features original songs composed by Lee Pockriss, Norman Gimbel, and Paul Vance.


Pocahontas (animated film)
Released in 1995, the film is a terribly inaccurate revision of historical events. It features original songs composed by Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz.


The Prince of Egypt (animated film)
Released in 1998, the film is based on the Biblical story of Exodus. Original songs were composed by Stephen Schwartz.


The Princess and the Frog (animated film)
Released in 2009, the film is based on E.D. Baker's 2002 children's novel "The Frog Princess." Original songs were composed by Randy Newman.


Red Riding Hood (live-action film)
Released in 2006, the direct-to-video film is loosely based on a fairy tale which dates at least as far back as the 17th century. There have been numerous adaptations of the story before and since this movie, some of them musical, pretty much all of them better-known than this. I think all the songs in this movie were written specifically for this version, though. But I could be wrong.


The Rocky Horror Picture Show (live-action film)
Released in 1975, the film is an adaptation of Richard O'Brien's 1973 stage musical (which I've never seen). The songs are all pretty good, and very unique.


Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (animated film)
Released in 1937, the film is based on a fairy tale first published in 1812. There have been numerous adaptations of the story before and since this movie, some of them musicals. The songs in this movie (which I mostly quite like) were composed by Frank Churchill and Larry Morey. The film is notable for producing the first movie soundtrack ever released.


The Sound of Music (live-action film)
Released in 1965, the film is an adaptation of Rodgers & Hammerstein's 1959 stage musical, which itself was based on Maria von Trapp's 1949 memoir (which I haven't read). Of course I saw this movie a number of times when I was a kid, and it has a bunch of songs I love and find very nostalgic.


South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut (animated film)
Released in 1999, the film is based on the TV series South Park. The songs were composed by Trey Parker and Marc Shaiman.


Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (live-action film)
Released in 2007, the film is an adaptation of Stephen Sondheim & Hugh Wheeler's 1979 stage musical (which I've never seen).


Tangled (animated film)
Released in 2010, the film is based on the 1812 fairy tale "Rapunzel," which itself is based on an earlier story, from 1698. There have been various adaptations over the years, though I'm not sure if any of them were musicals. But this movie definitely has some good songs (composed by Alan Menken & Glenn Slater), some of which I thought had a very Broadway feel (in spite of my never actually having seen a Broadway play).


Top Secret! (live-action film)
Released in 1984, the film is an original story that parodies musicals and spy movies. It features some pre-existing songs and some original ones. I think.


Trolls (animated film)
Released in 2016, the film includes new renditions of several old songs, as well as a few new songs written for the film by Justin Timberlake, Pasek & Paul, et al. I gotta say, this movie kind of feels unique to me in my perception of what a "musical" even is. Like, it's usually hard for me to think of a movie as a musical if the songs aren't all, or at least mostly, specifically written for the movie (or play, or whatever). But the way old, familiar songs are incorporated into the story really seems to me to be a perfect fit with those scenes and the movie overall. Another issue is that it's hard for me to think of a movie as a musical if it makes sense for the characters to be singing (like if they're actually musicians, or something). But in this case, it makes sense for the Trolls to sing because of their very nature... it's like they live in the unreality of the musical genre without it being unrealistic, you know? Anyway, that's all part of what I love about this movie.


Wakko's Wish (animated film)
Released in 1999, the film is based on the TV series Animaniacs, as well as being a parody of fairy tales. Or something. It features original songs written by Tom Ruegger and Randy Rogel, as well as Richard Stone and Julie Bernstein.


Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (live-action film)
Released in 1971, the film is based on Roald Dahl's 1964 children's book (which I haven't read). There was also a remake in 2005, and I guess a stage musical. Anyway, the movie's got some good songs (composed by Leslie Bricusse & Anthony Newley).


The Wizard of Oz (live-action film)
Released in 1939, the film is based on L. Frank Baum's 1900 novel (the first in a series, none of which I've read, but all of which I someday hope to). There have been numerous adaptations of the book before and since this movie, many of them musicals. The songs in this movie (which I love) were composed by Harold Arlen and E. Y. "Yip" Harburg.



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