Time Out says
Twenty years ago a beloved, Pulitzer Prize-- and Tony-winning musical that debuted downtown and then transferred to Broadway was turned into an abominable Hollywood movie. That was A Chorus Line. The good news is that Rent, which has an identical trajectory, isn't atrocious. But it ain't good, either. Although Rent-heads may note dozens of tiny changes, the musical remains more or less intact except for a few cut and reshuffled songs. Unfortunately, director Christopher Columbus has also done little to reimagine the show for the screen.
When this contemporary rock version of La Bohme set on the Lower East Side opened in 1996, it already felt dated. The bohemian world that playwright Jonathan Larson lived in and loved was about to die. Unfortunately, so was he. (He succumbed to an aortic aneurysm shortly before the first preview.) Almost a decade later, Rent plays like a quaint period piece. The actors, most of whom were in the original cast, sing, dance and pound their chests, but look a little silly since they're now in their thirties. They also possess perfect bodies and movie-star teeth, yet are supposed to be believed as junkies and AIDS victims. And because the film is rated PG-13 (don't want to lose that teen crowd!), it's depressingly tame. Larson's catchy, Sondheim-meets-MTV score is the one thing that makes this Rent worth paying for. (See Now playing for venues.)