18 July 2008

Review: Mamma Mia!

Genre: Musical

Good lord, someone - anyone shut the confectionary down! I thought - no, I hoped that the goodly presence of Meryl Streep would, like it had for the fun (but still ultimately flawed) The Devil Wears Prada, enliven, enlighten, and elate the sure-to-be sugary romp of a film Mamma Mia! from its otherwise predestined den within the bottom barrels of K-Mart and Blockbuster along with all the other atrociously zippy movies produced by studios such as The Disney Channel and - well - the Disney Channel. But, no!, alas Ms. Streep, despite her many virtues (without which - to be sure - she was entirely not in this film), was no talisman against the siren-like alluring blasts of hot and cold that this film dishes up like the glitter-iest plate of french fries Hannah Montana has ever seen. And, though this review does not intend on that its words concerning the uber-pop nature of the film it discusses be a negative criticism of that uber-pop-y nature (for the film is sure to delight its millions of eager pre-teen- and teen-aged would-be fans in that respect), this review does intend on that its criticisms be an indication of the seriously deleted status of integrity, want of cohesion, and ambition to construct solid play - whatever the tone, be it comedy (musical) or drama - of the world of film, especially 'young film' (or film with a young intended audience), today. In short, it saddens me that Meryl had to sit through this bullshit. Children, enjoy.

Smiles and sparkles,
Grade: D+

P. S. Could someone, please, be good enough to inform me whether the original Broadway stage version of this show was built more solidly and coherently? For the sake of the integrity of the Tony voters, who nominated it for Best Musical in its year among other categories, I seriously hope it was.

P. P. S. If anyone should be interested in seeing a good ABBA movie, which doesn't insist on milking the pop-tastic face of ABBA until it has become a shriveled rag, he or she would do well to check out the early 90s' Muriel's Wedding, which features a great and clever turn by Toni Collette as the title character, Muriel.

P. P. P. S. - Final one, I swear - Thank you, Mr. Scott, for again so deftly filling in those words that I've felt on my tongue but been too ornery or too cursory to actually say:

"The real problem is that the director of “Mamma Mia!,” Phyllida Lloyd, seems have taken the unapologetic silliness of the project (which she directed onstage) as permission to be sloppy. Abba made some of the most highly polished, tightly engineered pop junk ever. There is a kind of perfection in some of those hits that is undeniable even if — or maybe especially if — you can’t stand to hear them. But in matters of craft and technique “Mamma Mia!” proves to be remarkably shoddy, a tangle of clumsy cuts, mismatched shots, bad lighting, egregious overdubbing and scenes in which characters appear to have been haphazardly Photoshopped into the scenery.

It is safe to say that Ms. Streep gives the worst performance of her career — safe to say because it is so clearly what she intends, and she is not an actress capable of failure. There is a degree of fascination in watching an Oscar-winning Yale School of Drama graduate mug and squirm, shimmy and shriek and generally fill every moment with antic, purposeless energy, as if she were hogging the spotlight in an eighth-grade musical.

She is saved, and also upstaged, by Ms. Walters and, especially, by Ms. Baranski, whose cougar-on-the-prowl rendition of “Does Your Mother Know” is the one genuinely, show-stoppingly sexy sequence in a film that more often flails between forced cheekiness and unearned sentiment.

I know: I promised you a good time, and I’m describing a train wreck. But it’s hard not to share the evident delight of most of the performers. Ms. Streep overdoes it, yes, but you can’t accuse her of condescending to the material any more than you can fault her for taking it too seriously."


Post a Comment