"This 1995 made for TV movie is millions of miles away from the tacky propaganda-filled 1963 film. This version follows the real story and doesn't leave out any key parts or songs. The casting was done well, especially Tyne Daly as Mae Peterson (hilarious) and the actor who plays Conrad Birdie--an amazing voice! George Wendt plays the role of Mr. MacAfee and not only can he sing but is a riot in the Ed Sullivan scene. However, Chynna Phillips is not a great choice for Kim--she looks too old, her singing voice is only so-so (Kim's songs have all been lowered an octave) and the way she interpreted the role made Kim seem snotty. One of the best scenes is when Ursula and co. are doing "Bye Bye Birdie" at the malt shop--their voices and enthusiasm are unbelievable. All in all, it's a great show, excellent viewing for anyone wanting to produce or direct the musical."
This Version Made Me "Put On A Happy Face"
John Adams | Fort Lauderdale, Florida United States | 06/06/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Bad: The movie with Dick Van Dyke and Janet Leigh. Good: This version of a classic american musical. I had concluded my Junior year in high school performing a shabby yet fun production of "Birdie" and I was made aware of a TV production with Jason Alexander and Vanessa Williams. When I saw that the video of it was to be released, without hesitation I purchased it. I was very pleased with what I saw. This production was extremely loyal to the story and even to the script. I love it when an adaptation adds on instead of taking away. In this version there are more songs added into the fray. Ranging from the triumphant "Giant Step," the enjoyably obnoxious "A Mother Doesn't Matter," and the rollicking title song. Sure the film is lenghty, but in all honesty, most of the best films are always long.Next, it is customary in my reviews to comment on the performances, and in this film's case it is a priority. Let's start with the star, Jason Alexander. He managed to portray Albert Petersen perfectly through all his character changes, from humility, to self reliance. And thank god, with this, he proved to me that he was more than a whiny bald guy on a stupid TV show named after a comedian who can't act to save his life. In "Birdie" he manages to make each of his songs look like a natural behavior especially with "Put on a Happy Face." Now onto the beautiful and talented Vanessa Williams. She definitely holds presence in musicals and most of all, in this one. Her rendition of "Spanish Rose" which also neighbors the wild "Shriner's Ballet" are definitely high points of the film. Next, there's George Wendt, who is perfectly cast and in top-form as the easily irritated pure-blood american father, Mr. MacAfee. and "Judging Amy's" Tyne Daly as Mrs. Petersen is definitely the epitome of the clinging, demanding, melodramatic mother to Jason Alexander's character. But amongst all these notables. I must point attention to the dead-on portrayal of Conrad Birdie by broadway star Marc Kudisch (Who, coincidentally went to the same college, and worked with the same troupe as my High School Drama teacher. small world, eh?) Kudisch's spoof of Elvis is always a joy to watch. He totally comes to life in his first number "Honestly, Sincere."The Story of "Bye Bye Birdie" is still socially relevant today as it ever was when it concerns the way teens gloss and drool over the next big trend, and how they follow them so blindly as to not realize how much trouble they get into. Meanwhile you have the parents who are too clueless to realize that times change and things can never be the way it was for them. And in the end of this we see how in the end we see how the girl Kim MacAfee learns the importance of not rushing into growing up, and learn to stop right where she is and live her life one minute at a time.This film is definitely the definitive version of a classic musical. Filled with fun tunes, old and new, and associated with energetic choreography by "Fosse's" Ann Reinking, and performed by a top-notch cast. Any loyal Broadway buff is obligated to buy this version. So what are you waiting for?!"
True to the Show.
tvtv3 | Sorento, IL United States | 05/17/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Unlike the 1963 film of the same name, this 1995 made-for-television movie of the classic musical stays true to the source. The film contains just about everything from the stage musical plus three new songs. The acting is great, the songs are a blast, and the settings/scenery capture the town of Sweet Apple, Ohio perfectly.Tyne Daly as Mae Peterson, George Wendt as Mr. McAfee, and Vanessa Williams as Rose Alvarez are perfect.Jason Alexander is a delight as Albert Peterson, but seemed to have trouble with some of the songs and I therefore liked Dick Van Dyke's Albert from the original film better. Chynna Philips, on the other hand, just doesn't seem believable as Kim: she appeared way too old and just couldn't hit the right notes of her songs. Ann-Margaret was by far the better Kim. Also, I didn't like the fact that Hugo carried a guitar around (too Conrad Birdie wannabee, which Hugo definitely is not) and the scene at the end of the play where Kim announces her engagement to Hugo was cut. Other than that, the film really has no flaws. This version of BYE BYE BIRDIE is far superior to the original. At just around two hours, it's just like watching the play, but in your own home."
A 27 year old playing a 16 -18 year old?
Paige Turner | Hawaii | 06/28/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)
"There are pros and cons about this version as there is with the 1963 version. Ann Margret was 22 when she played the teenage Kim. She could pass for a high school teenager much better than 27-year-old Chynna Phillips. Ironically this role should have gone to Chynna's younger half sister, Bijoux, who was 15 at the time this movie was made. I feel Chynna Phillips was mis-cast as the teenage Kim, because she photographed looking like a thirty-something housewife trying to dress like a fifties teenager; she has an old-looking face as opposed to the fresher, softer face of the 22-year-old Ann Margret. Phillips has a nice singing voice but her portrayal of the character was very weak and unconvincing, as if she herself were uncomfortable playing a high school girl at age 27. A much younger actress/singer should have played Kim.
This version is more true to the play and focuses more on the relationship between Rosie and Albert, especially in the latter half of the film, whereas the 1963 version tended to focus more on Kim, Hugo and their friends, culminating in the kiss between Conrad and Kim, with Hugo's intervention. That particular section appeared in the middle of this updated version. At the time Ann-Margret was hot so I supposed that's the reason more emphasis was placed on her character in general and on the Birdie Kiss scene.
This 1995 version has a lot of great singing and dancing--the people cast knew how to sing and their voices blended beautifully. Jason Alexander surprised me at how well he sang and played Albert, though I'm always going to have a great fondness for Mr. Dick Van Dyke's portrayal.
I have to say that Vanessa Williams' portrayal of Rosie was superb, strong, sassy, and full of pizzazz; she handled the singing and dancing wonderfully compared to poor Janet Leigh in the 1963 version, who was not a singer and did not even FAINTLY resemble a Latina character; she was forced to wear a cheesy black wig over her blonde hair which made it even more apparent she was dreadfully mis-cast for the role of Rosie. Rita Moreno would have been PERFECT in the role, so it's surprising she was passed over for the non-singing non-Latin Janet Leigh. Guess the old Hollywood practice of casting known caucasian stars of European descent in roles of color was still going on, even in 1963.
If you're a fan of the original play, this movie will especially be your cup of tea. I have never seen the play, so my point of reference was originally the 1963 movie release. Now that I've seen something closer to the original Broadway play, I must say I enjoy this version a lot more, because there are more great songs included. Still, I will always love the 1963 release, so I think it's an asset to have BOTH version of Bye Bye Birdie in your DVD library."
Paige Turner | 09/07/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I watched this recently on TV - it was the most enjoyable musical I've seen in years. Jason Alexander was great (I was only familiar with his work on Seinfeld - can he sing and dance!), and they couldn't have cast a better mother than Tyne Daly. Vanessa Williams was great in her role, too. I don't purchase many videos, but this is a MUST HAVE."