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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

my week at the movies: ‘Step Brothers,’ ‘Mamma Mia!,’ ‘Bottle Shock,’ ‘The Perfect Game,’ ‘American Teen’

Oh my god. I want to be dreading Step Brothers [opens wide July 25], because it looks so idiotic, and yet I can’t, because it’s from the same guys who did Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, and that turned out, all appearances to the contrary, to be so sublime. The trailer is pretty dire, but there’s something in the knowingness of the dreck-iness of this poster — and yes, it kinda apes what 40-Year-Old Virgin did, and I hated that movie — that makes me have a little spark of hope. Can lightning strike twice? Probably not. *sigh*

The concept of Mamma Mia! [opens wide July 18] frightens me: a young woman has to guess who her father is? It’s not the idea of her having to confront the fact that her mother actually had sex — with more than one man! — or even that her mother doesn’t know who the father of her daughter is. It’s that there’s something icky in floating these men in front of the young woman as if to say, Hey, if he’s not your dad, maybe he can be your lover instead! And I know the whole point of her trying to find her father is that she’s getting married to some other bloke entirely, but still: there’s a level of ickiness going on here that is entirely unique. I hope I’m wrong, and that the movie isn’t icky, cuz who doesn’t like Abba?

Bottle Shock [opens limited August 8] is about that heady moment in the 1970s when California wines came into their own, and starting whipping the asses of French wines. I far prefer California wines to French ones, so this sounds like fun. Also, two of my boyfriends — Alan Rickman and Bill Pullman — are in this, so that’s like the delicious nibbles to go with the wine. Yummy.

According to the people who want you to see this movie, The Perfect Game [opens wide August 8] is the “true story of a team of impoverished boys from Monterrey, Mexico, circa 1957, who become the first non-U.S. team to win the Little League World Series.” Oops, did we spoil the fun for you? C’mon: they’re underdogs. You were gonna be cheering for them no matter what.

American Teen [opens limited July 25] is a documentary about how fucking awful it is to be a teenager, and how it’s even worse in America where everyone is miserable and conservative and small-minded to start with, and the grownups will beat that into a kid before they’re done. And here I was just finally getting over my own leftover adolescent angst…

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  • Mathias

    “I hope I’m wrong, and that the movie isn’t icky, cuz who doesn’t like Abba?”

    Straight men.

  • e

    Well I’m a straight man, and even though I don’t care to see the movie, I kind of get some rhythm in me when the ABBA songs come in. I think it’s like Journey, some people might wanna hate, but there’s always at least one song worth hearing.

  • swervy jervy

    I think you just came out of the closet.

  • Patti Heyes

    Am I the only person who has noticed that Mamma Mia may owe a tiny nod to 1968’s Buona Sera, Mrs. Campbell?

  • JoshDM

    Wait.

    You live in NY and yet you never watched Mama Mia?

    Or did you see a different stage production than I did?

    Also, I found out that ppl from South America love ABBA.

  • MaryAnn

    I have not seen *Mamma Mia!* onstage. I can’t afford to go to the theater often, and when I do, it’s not gonna be ABBA.

  • I have not seen *Mamma Mia!* onstage. I can’t afford to go to the theater often, and when I do, it’s not gonna be ABBA.

    But who doesn’t like Abba, MaryAnn?

    Oh, right, you asked that question.

    And the answer isn’t straight men, because I’m straight and I’ve always been an ardent fan. So are a lot of heterosexual men in my family.

    But, hey, stereotypes are fun, aren’t they?

    And hey, it’s not like Abba is a really awful group like Journey or Dave Matthews….What?

    Anyway, the one issue I have with Mamma Mia is the concept of an Abba movie with Abba songs sung by somebody other than Abba? Sure Muriel’s Wedding got away with that, but I don’t quite see Meryl Streep being quite as lovable as Toni Collette…

  • Hdj

    “Dancing queeeeeen, only 17………”

    * Shoots self in the head*

  • MaryAnn

    But who doesn’t like Abba, MaryAnn?

    There’s a huge difference between liking the songs when they come on the radio, and being willing to spring for $150 for Broadway tickets!

  • JoshDM

    Flex those reviewer muscles/connections, MAJ and get some seats. Plus, don’t they sell cheap tickets at noon or something?

  • MaryAnn

    The “cheap” tix are still $65, if they’re available, which they usually are not with popular shows.

    I honestly have no interest whatsoever in seeing *Mamma Mia* on Broadway.

  • Well, I had a chance to buy the Mamma Mia Broadway soundtrack for a much cheaper price and I chose not to because–ahem–I had the chance to listen to it first.

    I still like Abba the original group though.

    And I’m sure Hdj listens to a lot of stuff that would make me want to shoot myself in the head…

  • Hdj

    Probably,Its called death metal, if its too loud your too old, m/

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