Colma: The Musical

Movies
4 out of 5 stars

Suburban teenage frustration: Didn’t it always go down best with a salty side of Journey? Or the Smiths? That lump in your throat that only subsided by belting out “Voices Carry”? If any of this is making sense to you, you have a kindred spirit in Bay Area lyricist and composer H.P. Mendoza, whose 13 impressively raw tunes—songs about lame parties, fickle girlfriends and the foggy, dead-end town of Colma, California—make up the enjoyably openhearted Colma: The Musical. Why shouldn’t such timeless rites of passage as scoring fake IDs or hanging around graveyards find their way into highly choreographed song-and-dance numbers?

No good reason, but let’s quickly add that this isn’t the choreography of Dreamgirls or even Dancer in the Dark. Director Richard Wong has so much fun staging the occasional bored clap-along or clichéd twirl, all bathed in a YouTube-ready video cruddiness, you wonder how he’ll ever succeed with more money. The cast (including Mendoza as one of three morose wanna-be escapees) is clearly having a ball; they suck you into the movie’s gleeful shoddiness by sheer conviction alone. Pretty in Pink may not have been a musical, but Colma goes a long way toward correcting that oversight.

By: Josua Rothkopf

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