Written by: Tony Lazlo, CC2K Staff Writer
CC2K's Tony Lazlo tries to remember the insane details of an insane movie.
After a drunk/sleepy/insane cab driver almost barrel-rolled his van full of passengers off a mountain while driving me to the airport for my post-Thanksgiving flight home, I got drunk on margaritas at an airport bar before settling in to a first-class seat – I got bumped up – for the five-hour voyage home. That was my mental state for the in-flight movie: the screen version of the musical Mamma Mia, based on the ABBA-powered stage juggernaut of the same name. I swayed my way down the aisle, still trembly with terror from the madcap ride to the airport. I was ready to be fucking entertained.
An hour and a half of dazed disbelief followed.
Before Mamma Mia, the most taxing sensory experience I had endured while watching a movie came during Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest. I had the bad luck to sit in the front row next to a subwoofer that apparently drew its thunderous power directly from a neighboring hydroelectric dynamo, all while nursing a lung infection that put enormous pressure on my chest. I spent the whole movie expecting my heart to stop every time the movie's orchestra hit a bass note.
Mamma Mia, by contrast, had no such technological advantage over me. I watched it on a 15-inch screen while listening to its hyperactive soundtrack on a pair of crappy earpieces. That said, I can't report on the movie I saw with any confidence. If my memory is to be trusted, Mamma Mia follows a shenanigan-filled weekend on a Greek isle where a young woman (Amanda Seyfried) invites three of her mother's (Meryl Streep) former flames to her wedding. Streep's character never revealed which of these three men is her father, so Seyfried invited them all just to make sure.
Various incidents of flipper-clad mayhem ensue, including a succession of – without a doubt – the least self-conscious musical numbers in history. A charming/terrifying lack of self-consciousness distinguishes Mamma Mia, which features myriad squealing, sundry bouncing and assorted weeping.
I guess any movie that lives on a diet of ABBA has to dance like no one's watching, and indeed, the entire affair feels like a drunken, maudlin speech delivered to a roomful of partygoers and barely remembered the next day. I've given a few of those speeches myself, and Mamma Mia relentlessly pinged the embarrassment center in my tipsy, susceptible mind. It felt like John Henry was telling my brain I was a dork for 90 minutes.
But I kinda dug it. The movie happily promotes a sexually active lifestyle and the idea that everyone can have a second (or third) chance at love. I also liked that many (if not most) of the musical numbers were sung by middle-aged (or older) people, including a jaw-droppingly bad pair of songs howled by Pierce Brosnan.
All the same, my memory can't be trusted. I mean, seriously – turbulence jolted me awake at the 30-second mark of this clip. Can I really be sure any of this movie actually happened?
Author: Tony Lazlo, CC2K Staff Writer
Robert J. Peterson is a writer and web developer living in Los Angeles. A Tennessee native, he graduated from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. He’s written for newspapers and websites all over the country, including the Marin Independent Journal, the Telluride Daily Planet, CC2KOnline.com, Offscreen, and Geekscape.net. He co-hosts the podcasts Make It So and Hiram’s Lodge. He’s appeared as a pop-culture guru on the web talk shows Comics on Comics, The Fanbase Press Week In Review, Collider Heroes, ScreenJunkies TV Fights, and Fandom Planet. He’s the founder of California Coldblood Books.