I think my subconscious knew what was in store, and was protecting me.
I actually started watching it on Sunday night, but fell asleep halfway through. Grand Marnier was more to blame for that than the movie itself. As I watched, though, I couldn't really decide if I was liking it or not. I knew I'd have to see it through to the end to make that call. So, Monday night, I started again, right from the beginning.
It goes without saying that the music was wonderful!! Anyone who was alive in the '70s loved ABBA. They had sing-along-able, catchy songs and wonderful harmonies. I'm just surprised, and I shouldn't be, at just how many songs ABBA had. A lot more than I thought.
But, as for the rest of the film, the non-singing part? In a word - ugh.
It was grossly overacted. The young star who played the role of Sophie was just way too intense.
I could go on about most of the characters, but what occurred to me was that it was being acted like it was a stage production, not a movie. Now yes, of course, I know it was (is?) a stage production!!! I know that!! But, there is a certain amount of 'emoting' that is typical on the stage. When that is carried over into film, it looks overacted and contrived.
I'm no expert, but I know what occurred to me, and that was what occurred to me.
It was as if the actors all wanted to be heard by the audience in the back of the room. Only thing is, the back of the room is all over the world, and sadly, they tried to meet and exceed that expectation.
So now, you have a movie with great music, but bad overacting. Then, there was the story itself.
If that was the best story-line that the ABBA guys could come up with to showcase their wonderful songs 30 years on, then I hate to say it but the ABBA guys are senile, old fools.
The bottom line from this particular film critic is that it was an overacted, stupid story with fabulous music.
Sooooooo, I take my opinion, and go to my trusty source of all knowledge, Wikipedia, just to see what it has to say about this movie.
First thing it tells me is that this overacted, stupid movie with the fabulous music is the 5th best-grossing musical movie of all time. Boy, did I feel dumb. But, happilly, that's not all that it tells me.
When it comes to critical reviews, by people who are paid to do what I am here doing for free, it seems that I was not so far off the mark.
The Times (London) gave it 4 stars out of 5. Channel 4 (UK) said it had "all the swing and sparkle of sequined bell-bottoms". This is true.
Then, it got interesting.
BBC's Radio 5 Live's film critic said, it was "'the closest you get to see A-List actors doing drunken karaoke". Now we're getting somewhere. This describes it perfectly!!!
Bob Chipman of "Escape to the Movies" said that it was "so base, so shallow and so hinged on meaningless spectacle, it's amazing it wasn't made for men". Ouch.
As to the singing, I'm just going to post the whole paragraph from Wikipedia...
"The casting of actors not noted for their singing abilities led to some mixed reviews. Variety stated that "some stars, especially the bouncy and rejuvenated [Meryl] Streep, seem better suited for musical comedy than others, including [Pierce] Brosnan and [Stellan] Skarsgård." Brosnan, especially, was savaged by many critics: his singing was compared to "a water buffalo" (New York Magazine), "a donkey braying" (The Philadelphia Inquirer) and "a wounded raccoon" (The Miami Herald), and Matt Brunson of Creative Loafing Charlotte said he "looks physically pained choking out the lyrics, as if he's being subjected to a prostate exam just outside of the camera's eye." "Cruel as this sounds, it is absolutely true. I do have to say, though, that I applaud the use of actors not known for their singing. It did lend a certain degree of authenticity to the story. Not sure if 'authenticity' is the word I'm looking for here, but what I'm trying to say is that they weren't just going for a Broadway caliber performance for the movie. It's just too bad that, in my humble opinion, the actors didn't focus more on the acting than they did on their singing. The movie would have been much more touching and appealing and less 'in-your-face' if they had.
Will I watch it again? Probably. I often watch movies over and over again. Even though this one doesn't even rank on my Top 50 list, it was still not horrible. It just could have been so much better, I think.
(Imagine!! I get all the way through talking about a movie with Colin Firth in it, and I don't even mention him!! Who'd believe it?!?!)