The Reel Review

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The life and decades-long career of entertainer Cyndi Lauper, from her modest upbringing in Queens, New York to global superstardom and her advocacy for women’s rights and LGBTQ+ rights, is explored in this heartfelt documentary from writer/director Alison Ellwood (The Go-Gos).

Cyndi Lauper in Let The Canary Sing

Incorporating a plethora of archival footage, hit songs and recent interviews with Lauper and some of her creative collaborators, this film blows up any notion that Cyndi Lauper was an accidental, overnight sensation. Instead, the portrait of Lauper is one of a visionary – a detail-oriented artist who has worked to make sure her voice was heard, not just in music, but as a feminist and a tireless advocate for the LGBTQ+ community. Excerpts from her Congressional testimony about the disproportionately large number of homeless LGBTQ+ youth in America drive that home. She doesn’t just talk the talk – she walks the walk too.

Cyndi Lauper with her mother and sister at the NYC Pride Parade in Let The Canary Sing

After a sluggish and somewhat unfocused first half, the film hits a high note once Ellwood gets into the big, women-empowering breakthrough in Lauper’s musical career – 1983’s “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun,” with fun details inside Lauper’s creative process and even performances of different genres of music. The story behind “True Colors,” a song Lauper dedicated to her dear friend who died of AIDS, is an absolute tearjerker. By the time the credits roll, even the most tepid of Lauper fans will have a change of heart about this icon.

REEL FACTS

• The film’s title is in reference to a lawsuit Cyndi Lauper faced more than 40 years ago after she went solo following her time with band Blue Angel. The judge who resolved the case said of Lauper, “Let the canary sing.”

• Cyndi Lauper is only an Oscar away from achieving the coveted EGOT, having already won an Emmy (guest role on Mad About You), two Grammys (Best New Artist and Best Cast Recording) and a Tony (Kinky Boots).

• Cyndi Lauper recently announced a Girls Just Wanna Have Fun Farewell Tour, which will play 23 cities in the U.S. and Canada from October to December 2024.

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