Owen Gleiberman was recently named chief film critic at Variety. I knew Owen (a little) back in the days when he wrote for the Michigan Daily. He's written a lot about movies since then, much of it quite good (though his work at Variety has too often been editorials masquerading as film reviews).
But I think his review of Hamilton's America, which just premiered at the New York Film Festival and will soon air on PBS, is a bit much. It's a documentary about the making of Lin-Manuel Miranda's Broadway blockbuster Hamilton, but Gleiberman gushes so much it's embarrassing. You can almost quote randomly to see what a fan letter this "review" is:
...[Hamilton] has done nothing less than rewrite the way Americans think and feel about the Founding Fathers....
Miranda [...] is a creator of genius ferocity who nevertheless has a disarmingly sweet spirit. With his long hair and goatee and big glistening dark eyes, he looks like a softer, puppy-dog version of Al Pacino [....] He's got a gregarious smile and a bright, warm, open-for-business charisma [....] Miranda [...] gives off a glow. There's a light of insatiable eagerness inside him.
[Miranda] tosses off a rap of such savage density and insouciance, and makes it look so easy, that we're awed by his gift. [He is] one of the five or six most virtuoso MCs in the history of hip-hop.
I haven't seen Hamilton (much less the documentary about it), but I've heard some numbers that sound pretty good, and I like the idea of making the Founders relevant to today's audience. But is it really that groundbreaking? (You could say the same for 1776.) History is pretty exciting, but often comes across as boring to younger people--and older people--who can't relate, and every now and then someone has a popular hit that brings history to life.
Gleiberman compares Hamilton to A Chorus Line and Angels In America, though I think he misses the most obvious parallel--Hair. Hair was a 1960s blockbuster, housing a political statement, and done in a radically new style (for Broadway, anyway) that brought a different kind of music to Broadway. Hair is rock, Hamilton is hip hop, but they both changed how the musical theatre sounded.
So a little perspective, Owen. Try to contain yourself.
Near the end of his review, he writes:
Is "Hamilton," as a work of art, worthy of comparison to Shakespeare? Discuss.
PS It's spelled "Richard Rodgers"--with a "d." If you don't know that, should you really be writing about Broadway musicals?