The movie musical is a beloved genre that built Hollywood and still thrives today with movies such as “La La Land,” “Into the Woods” and “Beauty and the Beast.” However, just because a movie isn’t a musical doesn’t mean things can’t get a little theatrical! In fact, some of the best examples of movies with surprise musical numbers have eventually been adapted for the stage, such as “Young Frankenstein,” “The Wedding Singer, “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” and “The Producers.”
The following are 15 great musical moments from non-musical movies, in no particular order:
1. ‘My Little Buttercup’ from ‘The Three Amigos’ (1986)
“The Three Amigos” is about three suddenly out-of-work Hollywood dandies who are hired to help rescue a Mexican village from fearsome bandits, though they think it’s a performance and are unaware the danger is very real. Steve Martin, Chevy Chase and Martin Short star as the titular amigos while at arguably the peaks of their careers. There were actually a few musical numbers in this film, all written by Randy Newman, who makes a voice cameo as the singing bush. However, the audience participation in “My Little Buttercup” makes it our favorite.
Bonus Song: ‘Blue Shadows on the Trail’
2. ‘Love Will Keep Us Together’ from ‘Get Over It’ (2001)
One of the many teen comedies of the early ‘00s, “Get Over It” was much quirkier than its contemporaries. The plot, loosely based on “A Midsummer’s Night Dream,” concerns Berke Landers, who joins the high school’s musical production of “Midsummer” to get close to his ex. The show the students put on was written by film and Broadway legends Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman. In the opening of the film, Berke gets dumped by his girlfriend, Allison, and the movie goes full-on musical. Love it!
Bonus Song: ‘Midsummer Night’s Dream’
3. ‘The Babysitting Blues’ from ‘Adventures in Babysitting’ (1987)
Elisabeth Shue starred in this not-quite family-friendly movie. She plays a babysitter who takes a group of suburban kids on a wild trek through downtown Chicago. While being chased by some bad dudes, the bunch winds up onstage with blues legend Albert “Iceman” Collins. And, as Collins states, “Nobody leaves without singing the blues.” The movie also features a very young Anthony Rapp playing a sex-obsessed teen who worms his way into the plot.
Bonus Song: ‘Then He Kissed Me’
4. ‘I Say A Little Prayer’ from ‘My Best Friend’s Wedding’ (1997)
This 1997 romantic comedy starring Julia Roberts and Cameron Diaz has so many songs, it’s shocking it hasn’t been adapted for the stage. The musical highlight, though, has to be when Roberts’ character’s debonair gay best friend pretends to be her boyfriend and gets a little theatrical when asked how they met.
Bonus Songs: ‘Wishin’ and Hopin’
‘I Just Don’t Know What to Do With Myself’
5. ‘Billy’s Victory Song’ from ‘Billy Madison’ (1995)
“Billy Madison,” about a man-child who must quickly repeat grades 1–12 in order to inherit his father’s Fortune 500 company, launched the movie career of Adam Sandler and gave every middle-school boy countless lines to quote ad nauseum. The movie was written by Sandler and Tim Herlihy, the same team behind “The Wedding Singer,” who knew the importance of a good eleven o’clock number, even if you’re not in a musical.
Bonus Song: ‘Back to School’
6. ‘The Mamushka’ from ‘The Addams Family’ (1991)
Another film very close to people’s hearts, “The Addams Family” has a great number with music by Shaiman and lyrics by none other than Betty Comden and Adolph Green. Mind. Blown. The song is sung by Raul Julia (Gomez Addams), who was a Broadway star in his own right and the original Guido in “Nine.” Look for Shaiman himself as the creepy conductor.
Bonus Song: ‘Eat Me!’ (technically from Addams Family Values, but whatevs)
7. ‘Day-O’ from ‘Beetlejuice’ (1988)
Even though this musical moment is lip-synced, it’s too much fun and iconic not to be included. Geena Davis and Alec Baldwin are newly-deads who try to scare away their home’s new owners and avoid the “ghost with the most” Beetlejuice, played brilliantly by Michael Keaton. There is a Broadway version of “Beetlejuice” in workshop right now, with Alex Timbers directing and Chris Fitzgerald (“Wicked,” “Waitress”), playing the title role.
Bonus Song: The intro from the awesome ‘90s animated version of “Beetlejuice”
8. ‘Cuban Pete’ from ‘The Mask’ (1994)
Jim Carrey had a very good year in 1994. That year, he starred in “Ace Ventura: Pet Detective,” “Dumb and Dumber” and “The Mask,” all of which were big box-office hits. In “The Mask,” Carrey plays Stanley Ipkiss, who finds an enchanted mask that turns him into a cartoon-like superhero. When ambushed by the police, “The Mask” begins a big production number to distract them.
Bonus Song: ‘Gee Baby, Ain’t I Good to You?’
9. ‘Holding Out For a Hero’ from ‘Shrek 2’ (2004)
While the first “Shrek” film became a Broadway musical in 2008, none of the sequels have been adapted, which is probably for the better since musical sequels rarely ever succeed. However, one musical moment stands out in “Shrek 2.” Sung by “Ab Fab” star Jennifer Saunders as the not-so-nice Fairy Godmother, “Holding Out for a Hero” is both hysterical and downright thrilling.
Bonus Song: ‘Livin’ La Vida Loca’
10. ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ from ‘Wayne’s World’ (1992)
Another entry that involves lip-syncing, “Wayne’s World,” starring Mike Myers and Dana Carvey, is a comedy classic. While joy-riding around town, Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” plays, and Wayne and Garth get into it with car-ography and everything. And now, thanks to the film, you cannot hear that song without head-banging during the guitar solo.
Bonus Song: ‘Foxy Lady’
11. ‘Johnny B. Goode’ from ‘Back to the Future’ (1985)
This number utilizes a classic element of movie musicals: voice dubbing. Marty McFly, played by Michael J. Fox, travels back in time with the help of Doc Brown and a souped-up DeLorean. Through a whole mess of twists and turns, McFly performs at his parents’ senior prom. However, the voice you hear is not Fox — it’s Mark Campbell, who has done voice-overs for dozens of movies and TV shows.
12. ‘Somebody to Love’ from ‘Ella Enchanted’ (2004)
Before her award-winning turn as Fantine in the movie version of “Les Misérables,” Anne Hathaway showed off her singing skills in “Ella Enchanted,” a fairy tale with a twist. Here, Hathaway must sing for a ton of giants and totally rocks “Somebody to Love,” made famous by Queen.
Bonus Song: ‘Don’t Go Breaking My Heart’
13. ‘I Put a Spell on You’ from ‘Hocus Pocus’ (1993)
The Halloween classic stars Sarah Jessica Parker, Kathy Najimy and current Broadway Dolly Bette Midler as the wicked Sanderson Sisters, who are brought back to life in Salem, Massachusetts, on Halloween night. It was directed by Kenny Ortega, who directed “Newsies” and the “High SChool Musical” trilogy. In this number, the Sanderson Sisters infiltrate a Halloween party and use their hypnotic voices to put a spell on the unsuspecting adults. It’s only a matter of time before we see a Broadway version of this movie!
Bonus Song: ‘Sarah’s Theme’
14. ‘Twist and Shout’ from ‘Ferris Bueller’s Day Off’ (1986)
“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop to look around once in awhile, you could miss it.” These are the iconic words of Ferris Bueller after his legendary day off. With his best friend and girlfriend in tow, Ferris had an epic adventure throughout Chicago, culminating in a massive lip-sync of “Twist and Shout” on a parade float. It’s nearly impossible not to get into the spirit of living life to the fullest while watching this number!
Bonus Song: ‘Danke Schoen’
15. ‘Men In Tights’ from ‘Robin Hood: Men in Tights’ (1993)
Mel Brooks is certainly no stranger to musicals. In fact, almost every movie he’s made has had some kind of big, Broadway-type number. One of our favorites, though, has to be the big title song from “Robin Hood: Men in Tights.” A spoof of all the great Robin Hood films, Brooks’ take brings Cary Elwes, Dave Chappelle and Amy Yasbeck into the tale of the hero who steals from the rich and gives to the poor. In this number, the Merry Men take pride in their outfit of choice.
Bonus Song: ‘Marian’
We could probably make a list of dozens more numbers that have given movie audiences a quick Broadway diversion. Let’s hope the movie musicals are here to stay and more films will at least give us a number or two.
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