Mamma Mia! There you go again! My, my. I cannot escape you! Please allow me this short rant. When I went to see Hellboy II, I walked into a theater that looked like a shrine to ABBA. There were at least five posters for Mamma Mia hanging from the ceiling. MM's star, Amanda Seyfried, stared accusingly at me from my popcorn and soda containers, as if to say "I can't believe you ordered a Diet Pepsi to go with that extra large tub of popcorn." The player piano in the lobby loudly played an ABBA tune that, absent the insipid lyrics, sounded prettier than I remembered. "I hate that song," said the pimply-faced teen who, a few seconds prior, had bogarted me into buying the aforementioned extra large popcorn "for just fifty cents more!" I looked at his name tag and understood where his ABBA hatred stemmed from: The tag said Fernando.

Sitting in the theater, I thought "finally, I've escaped the ABBA overload!" No such luck. The pre-movie show featured "an in-depth look at Mamma Mia!" This was followed by the theater's musical selection of "The Winner Takes It All" and a trailer. I looked around the theater for Rod Serling and Ingmar Bergman, because it felt like I was in the Swedish equivalent of The Twilight Zone.

Now, I love musicals. I grew up on a steady stream of MGM and Broadway ones. I also love it when Meryl Streep sings in a movie (witness my unhealthy love for Postcards from the Edge). But wild horses couldn't drag me to Mamma Mia, and not just because it's full of songs I got bludgeoned with endlessly during the Seventies. The plot of it sounds too depraved for its score: one part The Bridges of Madison County (daughter finds diary that reveals her mother was not only loose, but also stupid for writing her exploits down), one part The Maury Povich Show (daughter invites the three men who slept with her mother to her wedding to see which one of them is her real daddy) and seventeen equal parts Muriel's Wedding and The Rocky Horror Picture Show (ABBA songs attack one's ears like spiked Q-tips as the star prepares to get married, people dance in the aisles at the Winter Garden theater on Broadway). This plot isn't a peppy musical, it's Lace II, the Phoebe Cates miniseries in which she famously asks "which one of you bastards is my father?!"

My rant ends with a burning question: Why aren't there any midnight showings of Mamma Mia? Can you imagine the lines of people awaiting admission to The Dark Knight dressed like the Joker mingling with people equally made up but wearing frothy wedding dresses? Talk about a missed opportunity for a little of the old ultra-violence!




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Movies Without Pity

February 2012


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