I love Chris Columbus’s Rent, but it has a 47% Rotten Tomatoes rating so all right, okay…I’m clearly in the minority. But at least William Arnold of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer likes it and the Hollywood Reporter‘s Kirk Honeycutt is seriously supportive. And the New York Times‘s A.O. Scott is also, to his admitted surprise, a fan. “The lyrics to one of its frenetic, show-stopping songs celebrate the idea of ‘being an ‘us’ — for once — instead of a ‘them’,” Scott Begins, “and the world around Rent may be similarly divisible, into those viewers whose hearts beat faster as soon as the lights go down [on a production of Rent], and those whose heads begin to ache before the first note has even sounded. Approaching the film adaptation, which reunites most of the original Broadway cast to belt out Jonathan Larson’s lung-stretching songs about love, art, real estate and AIDS, I was inclined toward the latter category. Two hours later, I was pleased (and somewhat surprised) to find myself an ‘us’, for once, instead of a ‘them’. Some aesthetic objections still stand…but every time the film seemed ready to tip into awfulness, the sneer on my lips was trumped by the lump in my throat. [Columbus] as taken a source that is fiercely and jealously loved by its core fans and refrained from messing it up. It is not just that he shows dexterity and imagination in transferring the spectacle onto the actual streets of the East Village in Manhattan. The real key to his success is his utter lack of condescension. Rent is nothing if not earnest…it believes in itself utterly [and] is occasionally silly, often melodramatic and never subtle. Openhearted to a fault, it stakes its integrity on the faith that even in millennial New York, some things — friendship, compassion, grief, pleasure, beauty — are more important than money or real estate. But to chide Rent for its childish politics or its simplistic and instantly obsolete vision of the New York demimonde is to think like a ‘them’.”