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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Solid State: The Musical!

Posted By on Wed, Jul 30, 2008 at 3:26 PM

This past weekend, my sister, brother-in-law and I went to see Mama Mia!, the new movie based on the Broadway hit, based on the book, based on the ABBA catalog. And despite Margot Harrison's less than favorable review, I genuinely enjoyed it.

My sister and I love musicals. And have for our entire lives. Most people know Christian Bale as Batman. Mention his name to me and I have no idea who you are talking about . . . unless you remind me that he played Jack in Newsies. My other favorites include Mary Poppins, Down With Love, Moulin Rouge and of course, Annie. Generally, if it involves a group of people breaking into song and dance in the middle of a city street, I'm down.

In Maine over the weekend, I caught my little brother hitting on a girl at the beach and immediately scolded him, questioning his loyalty to his college girl back in Buffalo.

"Bridge, come on!" he retorted. "This is just a summer thing! Haven't you seen Grease?"

Haven't I seen Grease? Yes, actually I have. A number of times. I've also choreographed amateur dance routines to several of the more popular numbers, thank you very much.

The adaptation of Broadway plays to screen has become increasingly popular. 2002's Chicago and 2005's Rent were both hits, and, surprise surprise, I enjoyed both adaptations. Especially watching to see if A-list celebs could pull off the high notes with the best of Broadway!

Whether or not I have shelled out to see a particular show in the traditional theater, I usually know the soundtrack courtesy of my mom and dad, bargain hunters who take the train to New York for half price show tickets. Such was the case with Mama Mia!, although c'mon. It's ABBA. We all know a little of the soundtrack just from growing up, am I right?

Mama Mia! is in no way a great cinematic achievement. The plot is hokey, the background story unlikely, and the songs . . . well, they're ABBA songs. They're good because they are bad. Oh, so bad.

But aren't those the requirements for a good musical?

There were plenty of times during the movie that I groaned. Actually, when Pierce Brosnan had his first solo song, the entire theater groaned. James Bond, it turns out, cannot sing. But to be honest, the only thing that really bothered me about the film was its use of bluescreen when the actors were flying through the Greek Isle on an old Jeep. Really? Do people still use bluescreen? It looks so . . . Gidget.

Despite that one technical faux pas, the movie was fun! Goofy, stupid fun. And perfect to see with little girl "dancing queens" of all ages. In fact, earlier that same day my sister and I had witnessed a beach rendition of "Dancing Queen," courtesy of a group of precocious twelve-year-olds.

Meryl Streep was captivating — and has a great voice to boot. Colin Firth was awkward, but funny. And Christine Baranski was Christine Baranski.

Plus, for all you men out there, did you realize that the young lead is played by Amanda Seyfreid, also known as ditsy Karen from Mean Girls? Yeah. No shortage of eye candy in this movie.

So if you are in need of a little musical therapy (i.e. 90 minutes of groan-worthy dance routines set against a striking Greek backdrop) head out to Mama Mia! If you don't like musicals, though, don't bother. And please, pardon the rest of us while we suddenly suffer a renewed interest in Swedish pop.



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