I realize the statement I'm about to make might offend a few dear friends who are in the show, not to mention an international slew of fanatical tourists, but what do I care? I'm not afraid to tell it like it is, and I'll be damned if I'm going to conceal my personal opinions for fear of ruffling a few feathered boas. I certainly have nothing to hide...
And so: I...Suzanne Leibowitz of Akron, Ohio...have never really been a huge fan of Mamma Mia. I mean, it certainly has its fun moments; anytime the ensemble is on stage; when the boys take their shirts off; when the boys take their shirts off; that drunken, gay megamix after the curtain call; when the boys take their shirts off...The list goes on. But I've always felt as though it's missing something. It boggles me, for instance, that "Mamma Mia" (the title song) is sung by the leading lady, framed solitarily in a spotlight dead center without so much as a box step, shoulder roll, or titty flash from the chorus, who are tucked neatly away in the wings for the entire number. Where the hell's the big flashy spectacle required of jukebox musicals to hypnotize us and make us forget that we're watching karaoke with costume changes? I'm all about a fun, frivolous jukebox musical every now and then. This one's just never really been my cup of T&A.
The film version (which dances its happy ass into theatres nationwide later this month) did not blow me away, nor did it nauseate me terribly. Actually, though it's cinematically "ongepotchket" with slow-mo pans and quick zooms as though it were shot specially for MTV in the early 90's, it somehow made the whole experience a bit more tolerable for me. I'll even admit that on a few occasions it managed to give me a couple of very minor musical theatre "show-gasms" (those spontaneous rushes of elation show queens often experience while watching musicals and our hair frizzes up and we start to glow a little, occasionally followed by tenderness and swelling of the breasts, slight cramping, and - in severe cases - diarrhea. They are the only true measure of authentic musical magic.) The woman responsible for such reactions was, of course, Meryl Streep, the 14 carat diamond in this box of Cracker Jack. The script (true to the stage version) is quite doody, if I may. But Meryl turns water to wine as only she can, and gives it life and purpose, proving once again that it would be captivating simply to watch the woman sittin' on the toilet. (In fact, at the beginning of the film, she does. And it is.) She sings beautifully and looks fantastic! If anything, her brilliance transcends the material, almost uncomfortably at times. It's a bit like watching Michelangelo regrout a kitchen floor, or Dame Judi Dench skate the lead role in HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL ON ICE (which I saw out of town...she was "eh".)
The movie is cast to perfection, featuring Christine Baranski, Colin Firth, Amanda Seyfried (who I enjoy very much), and Pierce Brosnan, the formerly sexy Double-Oh-Seven (these days more a 34 double-D) who's fairly charming until he opens his mouth to sing; then he is horribly mortifying and I was happy not to know him. The most lovely of all the supporting characters though is the sparkling backdrop of various Greek islands on which it was filmed. Absolutely gorge. It made me homesick for my little village of Astoria, Queens.
So I say walk, don't run, to this summer crockbuster! Is it genius? No. But neither are you. The thing's like a two-hour Olive Garden commercial: Everybody's exceedingly happy, though nobody quite knows why. And despite the fact that none of the crap they're serving is original or homemade, there's so much cheese and so many empty calories being served on screen, you can't help but smile a little bit and wish your family were that queer too.
The views and opinions expressed on The Randy Rainbow Blahg are strictly those of Randy Rainbow and not necessarily shared by Randy Rainbow, nor have they been reviewed or approved by Randy Rainbow.