When I was the film reviewer at The Flint Journal, I tended to allow criticism of my criticism to roll off my back. So, when an irate caller railed at me for giving away a spoiler in my newly-published review of Independence Day, I shrugged (to myself, of course, after apologizing profusely on the phone) and thought, “Meh … judgment call.”
But question my preferences in music, even in a backhanded compliment, and I am bugged to no end. When I favorably reviewed Mamma Mia! – the screen version of the stage musical based on the songs of Swedish pop supergroup ABBA – a co-worker responded with semi-feigned surprise. “I didn’t think YOU would like THAT kind of music!” she said, taken aback that someone she figured was styling himself as an intellectual had hidden plebeian tastes.
Can I help that I listened to too much Top 40 radio in the 1970s? I’m a sucker for “Dancing Queen” and “S.O.S.” and “Fernando.” “I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do” reminds me of my first girlfriend, and even hearing Meryl Streep and Pierce Brosnan attempt to sing it in Mamma Mia! isn’t going to ruin that cheesy song for me.
Guess what? Meryl, Pierce, Amanda Seyfried, Colin Firth and the gang are back, ten years later, in a lazily titled sequel, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, at your local theater starting July 20. Interestingly enough, the members of ABBA recently announced plans to issue two newly-recorded songs this year, with rumors of a reunion concert and even a tour (albeit denied by the principals). Forgive me if I chalk up this breathless news to ballyhoo over the new movie.
But what’s summer without a lot of movie hype over revived, reheated properties? I can skip over the currently endless commercials for Avengers: Infinity, Deadpool 2 and Solo: A Star Wars Story with a touch of my DVR remote. After a fashion, I’ll do the same for Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (due June 12), Ant-Man and the Wasp (July 6), Hotel Transylvania 3 (July 3) and Mission: Impossible – Fallout (July 27).
However, among the re-dos and sequels, I am most curious about Ocean’s 8 (June 8), which spins off the heist comedy series with a female cast – Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Anne Hathaway – and The Equalizer 2 (July 20), because Denzel Washington is pretty reliable. Of course, by the time you read this, most of us will have seen Solo, even if we think the Star Wars saga has some makeup work to do after The Last Jedi.
I’ll make no apologies that the ABBA purveyors had me at Mamma. And, 22 years after I had to listen to someone tell me how much I was going to ruin Independence Day for them, I feel unashamed and liberated enough to give away the goods: The First Lady dies!