Saturday, July 26, 2008

Mamma Mia: I Love You. Let's Sleep With Other People.

WARNING: The following contains mild-to-major spoilers for the film Mamma Mia... but it's not like the movie's a real cliffhanger or anything.

I saw Mamma Mia tonight, mostly because I like movies which feature singing, dancing, and Colin Firth.

The movie has plenty of all the above. There are very few moments when someone is neither singing nor dancing -- which, when one considers the spoken dialogue, is a very good thing. And Firth, true to form, jumps into a body of water to save the woman he loves. (Do you suppose that's written into his rider?)

If you've read any other reviews, you've figured out that Meryl Streep is made of awesome and Pierce Brosnan can't sing to save his life. I'd argue that Brosnan can't act, either, and that given the choice most sensible women would prefer Mr. Darcy to James Bond, so I don't know why the filmmakers picked Pierce as "the one Meryl Streep ends up with at the end of the movie." (Told you there would be spoilers.)

One particular review I read, while stuck at a metro stop during a thunderstorm, condemned the movie for its "freewheeling morality." (Would post the link, but this isn't the kind of newspaper that is published online.) While one would be hard-pressed to call any of the characters "immoral" (even the theoretical promiscuity leading up to the film's central conceit is ridiculously tame; Meryl Streep's character goes through a breakup and, over the period of a month, tries to find love with two other men), there was one segment of the storyline that troubled me a little.

It happens during the movie's First Fake Ending, with the young couple (which takes place before the Second Fake Ending where Pierce pledges his love to Meryl and then the Real Ending where Julie Walters seduces That Third Actor You've Never Heard Of and everybody pogos... and then there's the Post-Ending and the Post-Post Ending, but never mind).

So the young couple is standing there at the altar, and it's been obvious from the very beginning of the film that they are too young to get married OMG because that's what the dialogue has been telling us. ("How old are you?" asks Third Actor. "Twenty!" chirps too-young-to-be-getting-married Amanda Seyfried.) I'd argue that back-in-the-day plenty of people got married at their age, but the world has changed, and now all of the adult characters in the movie stand around and whisper to one another that this couple is too young to be getting married because neither of them have "seen the world" or "found themselves."

Anyway. So there they are at the altar, and little Amanda Seyfried suddenly says "OMG! We really are too young to get married!" And the twenty-year-old groom says "Oh noes! But I love you!" And Amanda says "But I love you too! So let's travel the world together!"

So here's the question. Why is it more important for them to travel the world unmarried rather than married? Why can't a newly-married couple travel the world?

The answer has to be "well, if they aren't married, then they can sleep with other people." That, and go through a really tragic, painful breakup on the Alps or something.

So that's what bothered me about the movie. (That, and Pierce Brosnan's singing.) There can be few things worse than going to your own wedding and hearing your potential spouse say "Um... I don't think I can do this... but if you'd like, I'll demote you back to boyfriend again, and you can re-prove yourself to me in a foreign country although my entire family seems to be wishing I'll find myself by messing around with a bunch of local boys... which is what my mom did, and that's how I ended up with three potential fathers, but look, we're singing and dancing now, so we're all happy!"

But then they started singing and dancing, so I was all happy.

1 comment:

maya said...

I haven't seen the movie, and probably won't get to until it's out on DVD and i'm by myself for the evening.

But i totally get the "i love you, but let's not get married" thing. I think it's an almost-break-up-i-love-you. You know the kind where you're doing what's best for you, but you want to the other person to know that you'll continue to have affection for them?