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YMMV: RENT

  • Adaptation Displacement: The musical is probably more well-known in some circles than La Boheme, the opera it was based on.
  • Alternative Character Interpretation: People who don't care for the protagonists see Benny as the Only Sane Man.
    • Are the protagonists rebellious artists for trying to break free of the system for the sake of their art, or childish hipsters who want attention without responsibility?
  • Base Breaker: Angel. Some fans love her for being one of the show's most unique characters and a Messianic Archetype and some fans hate him because of the Christ-like status the other characters give him (that and killing Evita).
    • Maureen. She's either a hilarious Plucky Comic Relief and a super fun role for a thespian girl to play with a wonderfully vivacious musical number ("Over the Moon"), or a pretentious Attention Whore who treats her lover like crap. This may have been exacerbated by the movie adaptation, in which several characters were adjusted/toned down for the new medium, but Maureen was played more or less exactly the same, highlighting flaws that audiences were previously more willing to overlook. However, no matter what one's opinion of the character may be, Maureen was Idina Menzel's star-making role.
    • The self-important attitudes of the protagonists themselves have been known to cause some viewers to completely disregard the great story and music and utter the Eight Deadly Words.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished : For someone who's dying of exposure, AIDS, and drug addiction, Rosario Dawson sure does look pretty.
  • Awesome Music: Finale B. It incorporates several songs from before in an all-out, heartwrenching, and simply awesome finale, with the entire cast. Higher voices get one layer, lower ones get another, and the melodies simply interact with perfection. Heck, Angel even sings in it! This is evident in the Broadway version, as s/he runs out to join them in the end. Not so much in the movie, but if you listen closely you can hear him/her.
    • "La Vie Boheme". Loud, raucous, and infectious, complete with table-dancing, mooning, and "up-yours" gestures. If you're not singing and dancing along by the time Mark hits "To days of inspiration, playing hooky, making something out of nothing...", there's something wrong.
    • Pretty much every song has its fans for one reason or another.
    • Christmas Bells for its almost mind-bogglingly complex harmony, especially starting at about the 5:15 mark. Not only that, but it continues to build the characters' various relationships and plot lines simultaneously yet still in a way that's astonishingly easy to follow onstage. It's not a song that can work as a stand-alone, like many in the play, but it's a standout piece nonetheless.
  • Dawson Casting: Mimi "You look like you're 16." "I'm 19, but I'm old for my age." Marquez.
    • The original Broadway cast were ten years older when they reprised their roles in the film. This is exactly why Fredi Walker (the original Joanne) didn't come back.
  • Designated Hero: Some people find the main cast pretentious and entitled. The dog-killing thing doesn't help.
  • Designated Villain: Benny, to some. He's sleazy, but certain viewers find his worldview much more sympathetic and reasonable than the others. After all, most of his tenants are drug-addicted squatters who owe him money.
  • Ear Worm: Every. Freaking. SONG.
  • Ending Fatigue: After the non-stop action of the first act, the second act seems a bit disjointed by comparison, allegedly due to the author never completing his revisions to the script. The first act has no scene breaks and (on stage at least) depicts almost in Real Time the course of one Christmas Eve. Then the second act brings in lot of Time Skips because it gives an overview of the year that follows.
  • Ensemble Darkhorse: Collins. Even people who don't like the show like him.
  • Esoteric Happy Ending: Mimi is revived from the dead...but as the rest of the cast points out, she'll probably only live for a week at most. Roger will have to watch her die twice. Not to mention that he and Collins are still terminally ill.
  • Family-Unfriendly Aesop: Being unemployed is preferable to paying your dues at a sensationalist tabloid show, where you're paid more per story than most journalists earn in a month.
    • It's perfectly okay to happily sing to your friends that you were hired to murder someone's animal for cash with a booty shake here and a drum solo there.
  • Fanon: It's generally accepted among fans that Roger and Mimi got HIV from intravenous drug use, while Collins and Angel got it from unprotected sex.
  • Foe Yay: Mimi + Benny = This.
  • Heartwarming Moments: On opening night, the day after Larson's very sudden death, the entire cast paid tribute by performing the musical sitting down at a table on the stage. By the time they reached La Vie Boheme, they realized they couldn't do the song justice without getting up and acting crazy and that Jonathan would have wanted them to do it right. Cue Anthony Rapp (Mark) getting on the table and starting the song, with the rest of the cast following—not just because it was supposed to happen, but because they got genuinely caught up in the song.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
  • Ho Yay: Some people read a lot of Subtext between Roger and Mark.
  • Love It or Hate It: You'll either get swept up in the catchy songs and unique story or be wholly turned off by the self-important hipster artists who equate making a decent living with selling out.
  • Narm Charm: Maureen's performance-art piece. Also counts as Stylistic Suck.
  • Never Live It Down: Angel and the dog. Year in, year out, the argument never changes...
  • Seinfeld Is Unfunny: A lot of modern audiences, no longer familiar with the specter of AIDS as a death sentence due to advances in medicine and AIDS research, don't really appreciate the gravity of what the characters are going through. In the film, a lingering death from AIDS complications is graphically depicted to make sure the point comes across.
  • Suspiciously Similar Song: "Do you know the way to Santa Fe?"
  • Tear Jerker: It varies from person to person, but especially, as noted above, the Dark Reprise of I'll Cover You.
    • Multiple fans can't get through "Goodbye Love" without crying.
      • Hey! Did you forget "Finale B"? Or "Life Support" or "Will I?"
    • "Halloween" is a quieter one.
    • In the film, "Without You", on the surface just a simple love song, is re-purposed to accompany scenes of Angel slowly getting weaker and dying, and becomes many measures more heartbreaking.
  • We're Still Relevant, Dammit: One of the reasons the film flopped was because it came out ten years too late to talk to the youth culture the show captivated in the '90s. Going up againstHarry Potter and the Goblet of Fire sure as hell didn't help. The musical, however, continues to be extremely popular with a massive cult-following, even if the attitudes of the protagonists can be a bit polarizing.
  • The Woobie:
    • Collins. Admit it, you wanted to give him a hug during the Dark Reprise of "I'll Cover You".
    • Mark—hiding behind a camera to avoid facing the inevitable fact that his friends will die, and faking smiles to attempt to seem the pillar of the group? Awwwwww.
    • Roger. A sensitive, emotional rock star with not one but two tragic love stories.
    • And Mimi is so hopelessly in love with Roger and so self-destructively vulnerable you may hate Roger for throwing her out.
    • Tracie Thoms plays up Joanne's helplessness a lot, coloring her with much of this trope as well.
    • Angel, assuming you're not one of those people who militantly hates her over the damn dog thing...
    • But not Maureen. Pretty much never Maureen.