Sep 3, 2008

Pierce Brosnan In Mamma Mia!

I like musicals, and it should come as no surprise to readers that I like Pierce Brosnan, so I actually wanted to see Mamma Mia! I won’t pretend that I was dragged there by my girlfriend; I’ll admit right up front that I actually wanted to see Mamma Mia! For some reason, though, it took me a while, and I only got around to it this weekend. It’s a lot tougher to see it now because Universal has released a “Singalong” version, which is playing (quite successfully) in certain theaters with the lyrics on the screen and probably one of those bouncing balls and presumably lots of annoying Abba wannabes singing along. The first theater I tried to see it in was only playing that version, so we decided to forgo it that night, and finally caught it at another theater the next day. I was in the mood for light, fun entertainment. I had high hopes. But ultimately, Mamma Mia! can best be summed up as a movie with a whole lot of singing, a whole lot of hopping, and a whole lot of endings.

I didn’t hate it. But I also didn’t love it, and I feel like I should have loved a fun musical full of catchy songs and luscious Greek seaside settings. There were moments I did get caught up in, like the involving finale of the first “Dancing Queen” number. I wished the whole movie felt like that, but more of it felt like the beginning of that same routine: strangely confined and not impersonal. There were also some really great touches of originality, like a whole chorus line in flippers. Too few, though, sadly, to save the show.

None of that is really relevant to this blog though. What’s relevant is that Pierce Brosnan is in the movie, second-billed after Meryl Streep, and if you’ve ever wanted to see him sing and dance, now’s your chance. If you’ve ever wanted to see him dressed up like a hippie in flares and a long wig and handlebar mustache for a flashback scene (even though the flashback is to just twenty years ago, when Pierce was clean-cut Remington Steele and hippies were already twenty years a thing of the past), now’s your chance. So how was he? Well, as I’m sure you’ve read in countless other reviews, he certainly didn’t miss his calling as a singer. But as an actor, he’s charming as ever, and fully earns his place as the 007 with the most successful post-Bond career since Sean Connery. Brosnan is the real deal, a bona fide movie star, and Mamma Mia! provides another genre for him to prove that in. He’s the rare actor, like Rex Harrison, who can manage a terrific performance in a musical without being able to carry a tune. Before Bond, he was always “the other guy” in romantic comedies (like Mrs. Doubtfire), but now he’s the legit male lead in a light, comic, romantic musical, and he carries it off with the same aplomb he displays in dark comedy like The Matador or drama like Married Life.

I think, ultimately, that it was probably good for Brosnan’s career and career longevity that he stopped being Bond at the top of his game, and didn’t grow old in the role like Roger Moore. At the same time, though, watching Pierce Brosnan today–whether he’s playing an amoral, past-it assassin, a deceitful 40s businessman, a bushy-bearded cowboy or even singing and dancing in a lycra jumpsuit–I can’t help but think the same thing I do watching him in 80s fare like Remington Steele or Noble House: boy, this guy would make a great James Bond.

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