Jun 8, 2018

[Movies] Todrick Hall: Behind the Curtain (2017) Review

My initial knowledge of Todrick Hall was limited to a few of his Disney-themed parody songs on YouTube and his occasional appearances on RuPaul's Drag Race. But beyond that I wasn't all that familiar with his career or his musical focus apart from all those videos with like a gazillion copies of himself singing in different keys.

A friend had urged that we should watch Todrick Hall: Behind the Curtain on Netflix as it was supposed to be a good documentary of his life or something along those lines. So eventually we found ourselves watching it over dinner.

To be fair, I think it's safe to say that we walked away from this experience with a better appreciation for his career and his recent efforts in terms of his music.There's a lot more to him than a seeming obsession with Disney things and the Wizard of Oz and this feature does a great job of framing it all and giving more of a story or explanation for how he got to where he is now.

Synopsis: Todrick Hall: Behind the Curtain is a documentary feature about the life of entertainer Todrick Hall. It's focused on his preparations for Straight Outta Oz, the Wizard of Oz themed album about his life.

The entire experience is framed around the rehearsals and preparations for Straight Outta Oz. We get a few interviews here and there amid the different rehearsals and the diverse shoots for the music videos for each of the songs. Over the course of the film, we also learn more about the inidividual stories behind each song as we also get to watch them being shot.

Todrick Hall is an amazing, hardworking individual and he has done a lot to keep pushing and establish himself as a performer beyond that one time he was on American Idol. We also get to track his life to the point where he gets cast as Lola in the Broadway musical Kinky Boots along with the release of his full work and the related touring performances for the album.

What I Liked: The documentary was very candid in its approach and they obviously had a lot of access to Todrick Hall in order to craft this. Over the period of four or so months the filmmakers pretty much got to live Todrick's life right alongside him and shared that experience with us. And we also get a few interesting cameos involving those who have had a chance to collaborate with him and help him bring his music to life.

It was also pretty mind-blowing to see all the behind the scenes moments for all of the different music videos behind the songs along with his very personal stories about what each song is supposed to be about. Straight Outta Oz is pretty mjuch a personal opus for him and a celebration of his life, both the good parts and the less than favorable ones. And that's a lot of work not just in terms of production but also digging deep into oneself to turn his life into art.

What Could Have Been Better: The documentary is really something crafted around his tour preparations and not in any true chronological order. This is neither here nore there but there is a limited degree of jumping around points of his life in order to match the songs or match whatever he wanted to talk about at that point.

There will also be a desire to see more of the final works in terms of the touring performances and such but we only get very brief snippets of things because that's just how these things work. But one can still hope against hope to see more of that and maybe we will one day.

TL;DR: Todrick Hall: Behind the Curtain is a pretty honest look at Todrick Hall's life and a celebration of his body of work. It's sure to give you a better appreciation for all that he has struggled against in order to create such beautiful and personal music and that's an achievement in itself. Thus the documentary gets a good 4 stellar performances out of a possible 5.

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