When I was a kid, The Wizard of Oz would air on television once a year. It was a big deal—an event. Millions would tune in and dare to dream along with Dorothy as she gazed up at the Kansas sky with her big doe eyes and sang “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” Little me was mesmerized, and from then on, I became a lifelong fan.
With musical numbers like “The Trolley Song”, “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” (Meet Me in St. Louis) and “Easter Parade,” Judy Garland created some of the most iconic performances in entertainment history.
She was pure magic.
But life wasn’t always magic for Judy. A product of the studio system, Garland struggled with her self-image and the unrealistic demands executives like Louis B. Mayer placed upon her. Hooked on drugs and alcohol by the age of fifteen, Judy eventually succumbed to her addiction in 1969.
Fifty years after her passing, Garland’s magic is once again captured on film in JUDY. Focusing on a slice of her life, the movie depicts the entertainer’s time in London, her sold-out concerts, and the months before her death. A cut above the typical biopic, JUDY doesn’t just flit through Garland’s life in romanticized vignettes. Rather, it unravels her sorrow, her loneliness, and her deep love in honest, sometimes ugly, ways.
Renée Zellweger is nothing short of astonishing. Singing and dancing like America’s Sweetheart herself, Zellweger’s uncanny transformation in to Judy Garland is jaw-dropping. Both heart-wrenching and inspiring, Zellweger’s performance elevates an already fine flick into an Oscar contender. And when the award season ends, I suspect there will be another little gold man sitting on Zellweger’s mantel.
JUDY is a must-see for all Garland fans. And for those of you have never seen a Garland flick (Is that even possible?), I highly recommend the aforementioned movies. Trust me, you’ll be tapping your toes and singing along just like me.
Until next time, may the flicks be with you.