We're all familiar with the experience of seeing movies that cram ideas and themes down our throats. Les Misérables may represent the first movie to do so while also cramming us down the throats of its actors.
Despite its pitfalls, this movie musical is a clutch player that delivers an emotional wallop when it counts. You can walk into the theater as an agnostic, but you may just leave singing with the choir.
This is a big story, with big themes, based on Victor Hugo's really big novel about love, law and revolution in 19th-century France. Yet somehow, "Les Misérables" isn't the major movie event it should be.
A productive experiment, an epic-scaled weepie, an exercise in sincere kitsch, and, perhaps too easily dismissed, a rare modern movie about the wretched poor, a traditional subject of interest at this time of year.
The tasteless bombardment that is Les Misérables would, under most circumstances, send audiences screaming from the theater, but the film is going to be a monster hit and award winner, and not entirely unjustly.