Video Fun with Biff

So if you are anything like me (bitter, too hip, snobby, pretentious, self-centered) then you are probably sick of hearing about that Richard Gere tap-a-thon called “Chicago.”

Tap-a-thon? More like crap-a-thon.

Seriously though, I haven’t seen it, and you know what, I never will. Musicals give me an awkward feeling. That kind of feeling that you get when you watch senior citizens eat food. There’s something just unnatural about it.

Unfortunately for you, the success of “Chicago” and “Moulin Rouge” can only mean that Hollywood is going to start churning out these musicals every other month. They will suck. So the ol’ Biffster has gone to his sad wealth of movie knowledge and emerged with something that he never thought existed: musicals that don’t suck.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I didn’t believe me either, until I dusted off my copy of “Voyage of the Rock Aliens.” This movie is trump tight. Not only does it star Pia Zadora, but it features a music video with none other than Mr. Dynamite himself, Jermaine Jackson.

There’s some kind of plot involving a bunch of aliens that fly around in a guitar shaped spaceship who just wanna ROCK. Seriously, that’s the plot. This ’80s sci-fi spoof of ’60s beach movies features rockin’ tunes such as “When the Rain Begins to Fall” and “Little Bit of Heaven.”

Ironically, they don’t rock at all.

Two years before Brian De Palma joined the elite A-list of Hollywood directors with his 1976 film “Carrie,” he turned out a masterpiece of a musical (if there is such a thing) called “Phantom of the Paradise.” As you may have guessed already – you smart thing, you – this is De Palma’s take on the legendary “Phantom of the Opera” tale with a ’70s glam rock twist.

This is the movie that your precious “Rocky Horror Picture Show” tries so hard to be. Yeah, I said it. The glam is here, but it isn’t the only thing on display. Poor Winslow just wants to see his modern-rock update of “Faust” delivered on stage, so this self-indulgent coked-out producer named Swan, played by real life songwriter Paul Williams, steals it from him.

After Winslow has an accident with a vinyl-pressing machine, he dons a sweet-looking metal mask, hence the whole “Phantom” thing. Songs such as “Upholstery” and “Somebody Super Like You” come without the hassle of synchronized dance routines, so you won’t have to witness you’re friends getting drunk and re-enacting them like idiots for the umpteenth time, “Time Warp” style.

What’s great about Paul Williams is that not only did he pen the songs in “Phantom of the Paradise,” but he also wrote all the sweet songs in one of the most underrated musicals of all time, “The Muppet Movie.” Yes, kiddies: Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, Rowlf the Dog, they’re all here.

What people tend to forget about this 1979 comedic piece de resistance is that it rules. Plain and simple. Does it get any better than “The Rainbow Connection” or “Movin’ Right Along”? Methinks not.

My big beef with musicals is that it all seems so silly. One second a person is talking, and the next there’s a chorus line behind them echoing their every note. However, when a Muppet breaks into song, it’s the exact opposite. It feels very, very right. Kermit could sing every other word for all I care and it would still be seamless. Also, any movie that boasts cameos from Richard Pryor, Steve Martin, Milton Berle and Mel Brooks has to be funny. Right? Right.

Okay, now this is just plain creepy. Whilst researching the fourth and final entry in our study of musicals that don’t suck, 1976’s “Bugsy Malone,” Biff discovered something that seems to be a running theme: Paul Williams did the soundtrack. Holy crap, this guy was on like Donkey Kong.

This is perhaps one of the greatest ideas for a movie ever. It goes something like this. Assemble an all-kid cast, set the movie as a gangster musical, instead of shooting guns have them shoot cream pies, and have them sing really catchy songs. Brilliant! The two leads being Scott Baio and Jodie Foster doesn’t hurt, either. Musical magician Paul Williams wrote some knockout numbers for this one, including “Fat Sam’s Grand Slam,” “My Name is Tallulah” and “So You Wanna Be a Boxer.”

If there is one thing I’ve learned from all of this is that my findings can be broken down into simple algebra. If Paul Williams is equal to X, then X= (Genius)(Visionary) + 2.

Remember, musicals don’t always suck, but usually they do. Especially when they involve Richard Gere.