Tuneless, yet tempting

Pub date December 31, 2008
SectionFilm FeaturesSectionFilm Review

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Mamma Mia! was nominated for Best Picture. I’ll let that sink in for a moment. OK, yes, the category in question is limited to comedies and musicals, and sure, the Golden Globes aren’t the most significant annual awards, but still. This is the best you could come up with, Hollywood Foreign Press Association? Meryl Streep unabashedly flailing on a rooftop? Pierce Brosnan’s nasal tones bringing new lows to the ABBA oeuvre? Best musical of the year, my ass.

Except, well, it kind of was. And I think that’s the real problem here: 2008 sucked for movie musicals. While 2007 offered Hairspray, Sweeney Todd, and Across the Universe, 2008 gave us Mamma Mia!, High School Musical 3: Senior Year, and Repo: The Genetic Opera. Is it too late for re-gifting? In the interest of full disclosure, I’ll admit that I enjoyed two of those three films. Mamma Mia! and HSM 3 both have their merits, and I won’t deny getting in on the toe-tapping fun. As movies, though, they’re pretty weak; as musicals, even worse. Don’t get me started on Repo — you know something’s wrong when Paris Hilton is the high point.

Mamma Mia! was lousy from the get-go, despite what endless lines in New York would have you believe. The flimsy story is more of a placeholder for the tunes, which you could hear performed better on ABBA Gold. (You haven’t known true horror until you’ve seen Brosnan in all-singing action — "S.O.S." is right.) Then there’s HSM 3, the guiltiest of my pleasures. Sure, I liked it, because as a fan, I can look past the overproduced songs, mediocre acting, and half-assed plot. Objectively, it’s just not an instant classic.

Finally, we come to Repo, a truly embarrassing, wannabe-cult disaster of a film. If this represents the future of the movie musical, I’ll opt for the film’s dystopian vision instead. Repossess any organs you like, just as long as I don’t have to hear Bill Moseley sing again.


1. High School Musical 3 (Kenny Ortega, USA)

2. Twilight (Catherine Hardwicke, USA)

3. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (Steven Spielberg, USA)

4. Mamma Mia! (Phyllida Lloyd, USA)

5. Harold and Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay (Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg, USA)

6. The X-Files: I Want to Believe (Chris Carter, USA)

7. The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor (Rob Cohen, USA)

8. Four Christmases (Seth Gordon, USA)

9. Beverly Hills Chihuahua (Raja Gosnell, USA)
10. The Clique (Michael Lembeck, USA)

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