With Halloween around the corner, attention turns once again toward Little Shop of Horrors. Not the Roger Corman original, which has admirers whom I don’t understand, but the Broadway update and, more importantly, the 1986 film adaptation.
I assume there’s no need to explain how much there is to love about Frank Oz’s masterpiece – if you’ve seen it, you know, and if you haven’t, fix that and you will.
In terms of its musical numbers, the fan favorite is “Dentist,” the Oscar nominee is “Mean Green Mother from Outer Space,” and the best, hands down, is “Suddenly, Seymour.” More than the moment where Seymour and Audrey finally open up to each other, it’s a moment where their inner feelings explode. Just listen to Ellen Greene belt out that chorus, with a voice we never knew she had in her – she’s letting loose in a way she’d never allowed herself before.
Seymour, meanwhile, isn’t offering any grand gestures or romantic superlatives. He’s simply saying, honestly and humbly, he loves her as she is. (“Don’t need no make-up / Don’t have to pretend.”) It’s the first time a man has treated her with kindness, respect, or basic dignity, and her reaction is an awakening. And in that awakening, they’ve found each other. It gives me chills every time.
That’s a lot of emotion to pack into the middle of a horror comedy musical starring a giant puppet, but it’s that heart that makes the movie – and the moment – work.