- You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you. Walt Disney
Pose with a Figure at a Wax Museum
The last time I visited the Hollywood Wax Museum, over a decade ago, I wrote a rather scathing review of the place (you can see a copy of that old review here). And it deserved it.
Madame Tussaud's opened their new museum nearby a few years back, and I honestly didn't think that the Hollywood Wax Museum would survive for very long after that. But it did (no doubt, in part, because its admission price is significantly lower than Tussaud's).
I recently received an email from someone at the museum, telling me that they had made significant improvements, and asking me to take another look. I turned down their offer of free tickets (I like to pay my own way when I'm writing reviews), but I felt that out of fairness, I owed them a second visit -- so off I went.
I bought a combo ticket (which included a admission to the Guinness museum across the street, for roughly the same price), and went in.
I must say, I was favorably impressed by the exhibits I first encountered.
Since my last visit, they have borrowed a page or two from Madame Tussaud's, and have removed the barriers that used to separate the visitor from the wax figures. The lighting on the figures also seems better than before.
In the first rooms, they have grouped a number of recent figures into a scene reminiscent of a movie premiere (or cocktail party), where guests can easily stand next to (and pose for photos with) the figures.
On one side of the room stand Robert Downey Jr., Angelina Jolie, Jude Law and Christian Bale. On the other side are the (somewhat less-impressive) figures of Tom Cruise, Hugh Jackman, Gwyneth Paltrow and Samuel L. Jackson.
Angelina's wax figure is quite good, as is Robert Downey's - almost on a par with Tussaud's figures. The nearby "Pirates of the Caribbean" scene is also well-done, with a good pirate ship setting, and a respectable Johnny Depp (as "Captain Sparrow").
But on the other hand, the Tom Cruise figure is dreadful, with an exaggerated nose and flattened head that gives him a distinctly neanderthal look. The other figures in this room vary in quality, but are generally pretty good (even though Hugh Jackman's arms-akimbo pose looks awkward).
However, as you move deeper into the museum, two things happen. One, the rooms become smaller and dimmer, and begin to form a maze of twisting hallways, somewhat reminiscent of a carnival sideshow attraction -- compared to the bright, spacious rooms at Tussaud's. Second, the quality of the wax figures declines - for the most part.
Alas, there are still some genuinely terrible figures to be found here.
I don't think I would have even recognized the atrocious wax figure of Lucille Ball, had she not been placed in her famous "Vitametavegiman" scene from "I Love Lucy".