You'll never find a more literal title for a movie than "Naked Boys Singing!" A musical extravaganza devoted to the trials and tribulations of nude dudes, the film is not for those prone to excessive blushing. However, it is an unexpectedly boisterous, giddy show kicking down the taboo of the male body with a collection of toe-tappin' songs and enough full frontal to power 300 consecutive bachelorette parties.
Technically speaking, "Naked" isn't a powerhouse musical dressed to the nines in exquisite production value. The film is a modest (bad choice of words, I know) effort to maneuver the considerable efforts of the long-running and dearly beloved stage show to the screen, where audiences will have more opportunity to soak up the undressed highlights. With the exception of some infrequent editing tricks and theatrical camera placement, "Naked" bluntly captures the magic onstage, while the cast members lip-synch their performances for optimal audio representation.
Surely "Naked" is bawdy, outrageous entertainment, poking fun at the stuffy conventions of musical theater while showcasing 10 gentlemen with Broadway-quality voices running through 16 songs of various tempos and emotional beats, all focusing on the idea of being nude or the promise of it. Truthfully, this is a celebration of the penis, with every scene involving the disrobing of the performers, leaving the cast ample room to flop around the stage. I swear it's all in good fun, as "Naked" assumes a mission to keep the audience at ease with copious amounts of humor and some light crowd interaction. This is tremendously breezy, friendly entertainment that just so happens to be bottomless.
As with any piece of musicianship, the songs do range in quality. The ballads tend to miss their gasp of emotional life, pushed aside by the livelier numbers which typically involve the animated efforts of the entire cast and produce sheepish smiles. I was partial to "The Bliss of a Bris," which turns the religious act into a spirited romp of genital fear; "Fight the Urge" takes the audience into the high school locker room, where an errant erection could spell doom; and "Perky Little Porn Star" wins just by the lyrics alone ("Try to tell an old curmudgeon/That you like to pack the fudge in").
Again, it's important to note that most of these songs are performed completely in the buff, and that's no small accomplishment. Even if one rejects the music on a purely personal taste level, there has to be a hefty amount of respect paid to the actors for their skills executing elaborate dance choreography while their bits and pieces sway two moves behind. The impressive physicality of the acting is only a small part of the experience, but a notable one. Thankfully, the rest of the picture is enough of a raucous night at the theater to temporarily blur the fact that, indeed, these are naked actors singing.
"Naked Boys Singing!" is a chunk of burlesque that's welcoming and charismatic, making the film adaptation a swell precursor to the live stage experience, where this risqué show really belongs.
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