Saturday, July 26, 2008

Mamma Mia!

Have you ever been to a party where nearly everyone is in on a private joke and you just don't get it? Now, through the miracle of modern cinema, this very uncomfortable feeling has been captured in 108 minutes of on-screen horror. It's called Mamma Mia! which is the probable reaction of every viewer who does not possess the required amount of estrogen necessary to embrace this mess within its designed framework. What were they thinking?

Mamma Mia! is based on a song which became the basis of a long-running Broadway musical. Now it's a screenplay! Its foundation is the remarkable catalog of music written and performed by ABBA, one of the most successful pop music groups of all time. Somehow this sure-fire train of success has become hopelessly derailed. A generic storyline of young people in love, combined with many beauty shots of romantic Grecian islands, kept the uninitiated viewers (like myself) occupied for the first two or three reels. Visual and aural pain followed!

The casting defies logic. Mamma Mia! is jam-packed with ABBA tunes at every appropriate (and inappropriate) moment. Yet, none of the main players can competently carry a tune. At least, to the audience I sat with, this deficiency was completely acceptable. It doesn't matter that she can't sing! That's Meryl Streep up there as the promiscuous mother of the bride-to-be! (Oh, brother!)

I completely confirmed this theory at the very end of the film. After 45 minutes of thinking to myself 'Please make it stop!' the entire ensemble appears on screen, decked out in disco attire, for a finale to accompany the credits. The song finally ends. The credits end but the movie doesn't. Meryl comes out of character, into a close-lens shot, and asks the audience 'Do you want another one? Huh?' More credits followed with more tuneless singing and new over-the-top costumes. This produced a final high-five between the movie and its assumed endearing audience.

The marketing geniuses at Universal should have subtitled this flick Postcards From The Edge II - The Greek Love-Child Wedding. ABBA's music was misused as an awkward vehicle for all the miscast stars. This is the Hollywood equivalent of an often-used vacation time strategy: Put ketchup on it. It will taste better. Meryl Streep, and her leading man Pierce Brosnan, should be turning red! Superstars or not, this movie is simply inedible.

Please keep in mind that I am not a subscriber to this gag so my kvetching maybe irrelevant to your potential enjoyment of this movie. Mamma Mia! has earned record-breaking box office numbers since its release propelled by the charms of its cast alone. Rest assured: It's not the plot. It's not the performances. Mamma Mia! indeed!


Anonymous said...

Yea, I want to see that movie

Anonymous said...

Rudy hated Mamma Mia, too. The audience burst into laughter when Pierce Brosnan sang. I felt sorry for him -- not really. Colin Firth used to be cute, but, hell, he's my age. Poor guy.