If all the hype surrounding Rent has got you all moist and juicy to see a musical about people looking for a place to live, don't waste your time with the big-budget adaptation of the hit play (see review, page 51). Instead, invest your time and money on a little film called Open House.
Anthony Rapp (who co-stars in Rent) is Barry, a real-estate agent eager to sell a house. Barry is so desperate that he routinely breaks out into song and dance to describe the "fantabulous" home he's pushing. During the course of the day, Barry crosses paths with several potential buyers—none of whom have much interest in the house for sale—who include a jewel thief on the run, two cops having an affair and a young couple who venture into other people's homes to have sex and steal trinkets. As the strange and surreal comedy moves along, the odd assortment of characters run into each other, all the while busting out various tunes.
Fans of Hollywood musicals should like Open House, but more important, those who hate musicals will really enjoy writer-director Dan Mirvish's mix of spoof and tribute. The film is shot mostly with handheld camera, giving it a down-and-dirty indie look that plays to great contrast with the overall silly tone. Alson lending to the film's charms—not to mention odd, surreal nature—is the fact that the actors are singing the songs live on set and not lip synching to a prerecorded track.
Recently released on DVD, Open House is loaded with a wealth of bonus material including a musical commentary and singalong lyrics.