Monday, July 28, 2008

GREECE IS THE WORD

What's on Oscar winner like Meryl Streep doing in a dump like this? And Colin Firth? And Bond, James...I mean, Pierce Brosnan? I'm talking about Mamma Mia, which I saw yesterday at the Ziegfeld Theater in New York City (see post below). Must have been the Greek Islands location. (I'd go back there for free to film a really bad movie.) At times, I could have sworn they all looked slightly embarrassed.

Anyone who thought Meryl could do it all will have to rethink that stance. She learned Polish for Sophie's Choice and how to play the violin for Music of the Heart, but obviously, carrying a tune stumped her. She's mad pitchy, dawg. And Pierce Brosnan: as Simon Cowell would say, horrendous. Every time he opened his mouth to croak out a little tune, the audience started to howl. And they weren't laughing with him. Colin Firth, who, in a clever bit, introduced himself to another character James Bond-style, fared better, but luckily for him, he didn't have much to do. Stellan Skarsgard wisely skipped the solos. I was so happy to see Julie Walters that she could have been singing the, uh, phone book for all I cared. Christine Baranski and the perfectly cast Amanda Seyfried, who plays the daughter (of Meryl) who invites her three possible dads (Pierce, Colin and Stellan) to her wedding, were Broadway caliber, and Dominic Cooper merely had to look hot, a task he handled with aplomb (for proof, see him and Amanda in the photo above).

As bad as the singing gets, the music is the main attraction here. Those ABBA songs are so sturdy that I enjoyed them anyway. And normally, tons of backup singers did the heavy lifting. (Unfortunately, they weren't around to save the day--and the song--during Meryl's solo of "The Winner Takes It All.") The friend with whom I saw the movie thought the filmmakers should have used the actual ABBA tracks, and before I saw the movie, I thought so, too. But now I disagree. A large part of the draw is seeing famous actors whom we've never before seen sing tackle the numbers.

The storyline is featherweight, the acting inconsequential--though it'll probably dominate the hackfest Golden Globes' musical nods. But really, what's a great actress like Meryl Streep doing in a dump like this--the movie and the shabby hotel run by her character? Especially in a year in which she's once again on the Oscar shortlist (for Doubt). Normally, Meryl can elevate the worst material (see The Devil Wears Prada, Death Becomes Her and pretty much all of her comedies), but this time she fails spectacularly.

The movie is rubbish for sure. Hokey, corny, all that bad stuff. But damn, I loved every minute of it.
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