When I go to the movies, I’m usually looking for a couple hours of pure escapism. Whether I get lost in the plot or the action or the characterizations, I’m out of my mundane corner of the world for a bit.
Last weekend, it was a musical that took me away from it all. Mamma Mia! is a delight, filled with ABBA tunes, great choreography, gorgeous cinematography and a light-hearted storyline. About half way through, I realized my cheeks hurt; I hadn’t stopped smiling. And I didn’t stop smiling and laughing, even through the credits. (Yes, stay for the credits!) Though, to be honest, there were a few moments of cover-my-eyes embarrassment.
As you watch Mamma Mia! it’s extremely obvious that everyone is having a great time. If you can, pay attention to the extras. There’s one woman – she must be a grandmother several times over – who is having the time of her life (pun intended). There are two musical numbers with a large number of the cast, and one can’t help but notice the exuberance and sheer fun. Meryl Streep is wonderful as Donna, and her Dynamo cohorts, Christine Baranski and Julie Walters, are a hoot. Amanda Seyfried is excellent as the bride-to-be Sophie, and Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth and Stellen Skarsgård look the parts as Donna’s former beaus. However, those moments of embarrassment I mentioned come at the lack of singing ability by at least one of the suitors.
Musicals are unique combinations of acting, singing and scenery. I adore musicals; not everyone does. But they do require more than the usual suspend-your-disbelief attitude from moviegoers. Mamma Mia! is worth the effort.
On a side note, the trailers before the movie were definitely intriguing. Tyler Perry’s The Family That Preys might be worth seeing – it stars Kathy Bates, Alfre Woodard, Cole Hauser and Sanaa Lathan. Henry Poole Is Here is Luke Wilson’s latest, and it looks like a heartwarmer and a tearjerker. The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 continues the adventures of friends-for-life Alexix Bledel, America Ferrera, Blake Lively and Amber Tamblyn. Flash of Genius, based on a true story, stars Greg Kinnear and Lauren Graham – another tearjerker, and I hope the little guy wins (won) against U.S. automakers. Ghost Town gives us another take on the “I see dead people” routine, though with Ricky Gervais heading the cast, I have a feeling this one contains a few more laughs than previous incarnations of the theme. The Express, another based-on-a-true-story potential blockbuster, tells the story of Ernie Davis (portrayed by Rob Brown, Finding Forrester), the first African-American football player to win the Heisman Trophy.
I, quite frankly, would be hard pressed to say “I will definitely not be going to that movie” for any of these releases. It looks like I will continue to spend my money at the movies!
And on books. I’m about three-quarters of the way through White Night, the latest paperback in The Dresden Files. Whew, what a ride! I’m already anticipating the need to read the next installments – Small Favor, now in hardcover, and Turn Coat, expected in early 2009 – right now!