Mamma Mia Indeed.
It’s the season of Really Serious Films. For grown-ups. (That means I’m not talkin’ movies about mall cops or dog hotels.) I’m talkin’ films that get major awards buzz which are typically released at the tail-end of the year in about five theaters in New York City and two in Los Angeles, and then gradually make their way to theaters throughout the rest of the country sometime in February or March, if at all.
Many of the Really Serious Films considered for industry awards wind up being major downers like Doubt (about pedophilia in the Catholic church), Revolutionary Road (about angry, depressed suburbanites, circa the 1950s), Gran Torino (about Clint Eastwood as a really angry, depressed guy who lives in the city, plus he’s got a gun) and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (a melancholy love story where the two people are aging in opposite directions and can only “meet” in the middle).
Then there is Meryl Streep. In Mamma Mia. Yes, I realize that the film came out last year, but it was just released on DVD and I just got it via my good friends at NetFlix (a godsend to parents with small kids who don’t have babysitters). I was reluctant to see this movie because I’m not typically a fan of musicals. I tend to lean more toward admiring Really Serious Films that render you pondering the implications and meanings of things days later, or make you crave large jugs of cheap wine because they’re so damned depressing. But when Streep was nominated for a Golden Globe award as best actress in a comedy/musical film for Mamma Mia (which she lost) – she was also up for a Golden Globe for her role in Doubt (which she also lost) – I figured, okay, if the Hollywood Foreign Press Association thinks her performance was worthy, I’ll give it a whirl.
Immediately post-Golden Globes, despite the fact that Streep lost, I popped Mamma Mia into the DVD player and was pleasantly surprised, buoyed even. Why? Certainly not because I liked the merciless onslaught of scenes where characters broke out into song in the middle of sentences and streets. (When it comes down to it, almost all musicals, including the beloved Sound of Music, are goofy in that way, having people suddenly start singing, dancing and swooping their arms around in the air.) I liked this blatant chick flick because it was refreshing to see a 59-year-old actress leading a film with vigor, and, dare I say, with a distinctly unHollywood type of realistic sex appeal derived from the movie’s irreverence and Streep’s put-it-all-on-the-table performance.