Miserable is the word to describe the bunch of filthy French people with British accents who spend this pretentious two-and-a-half-hour musical moaning and wailing about how poor and passionate and in love they are when all they really need is a bath.  So much of the footage consists of claustrophobia-triggering close-ups of scraggly facial fur, snotty nostrils, and gaping mouths full of rotting teeth that the viewer can almost smell the sewage and revolution in the air of nineteenth (or is it twenty-first?) century France’s capital.

A handful of rousing musical numbers, notably “I Dreamed a Dream”, “Master of the House”, and “One Day More”, share the scales with a lot of filler in Les Miserables, with nearly every line in the movie quavered or belted awkwardly rather than spoken.  Make no mistake: this Les Miserables is a musical.  Anne Hathaway, sporting the worst haircut of her life, fares fairly well in her vocal contributions, with the women generally being easier on the ears than the men in the film.  In career lowlight performances, Hugh Jackman and Russell Crowe look dazed, confused, and as if both might just as soon tap wieners as duel while they serenade each other.  The standout scene of the film both in terms of musical enjoyment and choreography is the hilarious rendition of “Master of the House”, sung by Sacha Baron Cohen with help from Helena Bonham Carter as Monsieur and Madame Thenardier.

Simplistic in its message, Les Miserables suffers from an overbearing, banner-brandishing earnestness, with insufficient comic relief or moments genuine humanity to break the bleak, seemingly unending whining and self-righteous howling of the various undesirables.  See it for Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter and just hold your nose through the rest.  3 out of 5 stars.

Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Les Miserables is:

6.  Multiculturalist.  The teeming, nasty masses of Paris are peppered with a few conspicuously placed Africans.

5.  Pro-slut.  Fantine (Anne Hathaway) is a sympathetic single mother.  Prostitution with its profit motive is, however, discouraged.

4.  Pro-castration.  Les Miserables celebrates the cult of the womanish, sensitive man.  Jean Valjean (Jackman) vows to be both “father and mother” to young ward Cosette (Isabelle Allen).

3.  State-ambivalent.  Javert (Crowe) is an honorable man devoted to public service, but questions the correctness of his mission when it means opposing the inexorable march of Equality.

2.  Ostensibly Christian, espousing more Hollywood liberation theology.  Characters invoke God throughout, usually in the context of helpless yelping.  The Catholic Church is useful to the extent that it harbors fugitive criminals and redistributes wealth.

1.  Communard/anti-capitalist.  Young Occupy thugs waving red flags sing of “red, a world about to dawn.”  Liberty receives revolutionist lip service, but Equality is the tune they croak most enthusiastically.  Commerce is represented in Les Miserables by prostitution, dehumanizing factory work, and the Thenardiers’ tawdry inn, where, in addition to other acts of crudity and knavery, they blithely pick their customers’ pockets.