Before further elaboration, it must be reiterated that Reiner has made a jaw-droppingly eclectic list of classic movies that should make most filmmakers green with envy, such as 'This Is Spinal Tap,' 'The Princess Bride,' 'When Harry Met Sally,' 'Misery,' 'A Few Good Men,' and 'The American President.' Great films, the lot of 'em. However, something happened to him in the '90s. Something that caused him to enter some sort of rut, because we got films like 'Rumor Has It,' 'The Bucket List,' 'Alex and Emma,' and 'Flipped.' It doesn't even feel like the same filmmaker.
'Next to Normal' is a tremendous play, one of the best musicals of recent years. Can the modern Rob Reiner find his footing, pull himself out of that rut and deliver another classic?
That's the question of the moment, though we have some breathing room since it's not even 100% confirmed that Reiner will be helming the film version; Playbill (via The Playlist) just reports that's he's "dying to make it." However, if taking on such a powerful property would re-ignite the spark that's been missing from Reiner's recent work, then he should by all means take it on. We here at Cinematical would give a limb or two to have him working at full capacity again (okay, maybe a finger or a toe).
'Next to Normal' is a rock musical that follows a family through a series of trials and tribulations, including a mother with bipolar disorder. It's effective melodrama set to amazing music that manages to simultaneously kick ass and emotionally devastate -- it's more of a powerful drama set to music than an "all singing, all dancing" extravaganza. The show took home Tony's for best actress (Alice Ripley), best original score and best orchestration and was nominated for eight more. Then there are the twenty three other nominations and wins, including a Pulitzer Prize, making it the first musical to win that prestigious award since 1996's 'Rent.'
And here we are, back where we started. Despite the acclaimed source material, the film version of 'Rent' just doesn't work at all, proving that an amazing Broadway musical does not always translate into an amazing movie. Does Reiner have the nerve to make 'Next to Normal' work as a film? Heck, does 'Next to Normal' even need to be a film? Feel free to speculate in the comments below.