What do the two presumptive top movies of this weekend have in common? Both The Dark Knight and Mamma Mia! feature one star each from the 1983 art-house hit Educating Rita. In her first film role, Julie Walters plays a hairdresser that takes a lit class from an embittered failed poet played by ubiquitous thespian Michael Caine.
They were both nominated for Best Acting Oscars, but neither took home the trophy. Now twenty five years later they've moved on to supporting roles. In the Abba-tastic musical, Walters (left) is the former Dynamo to Meryl Streep's Donna.
Michael Caine has gone from being the man who ogled Demi Moore's pre-Striptease tassels to being Bruce Wayne's faithful manservant.
I saw Educating Rita when I was in college and now a quarter century later, both actors are still going strong. I just find these odd coincidences utterly fascinating. Who would have guessed that both would have big hits in the same week?
Anyways, here's my Mamma Mia! (Remember: Two m's in 'mamma' and an exclamation point) story: As Broadway hounds, we knew of the Mamma Mia musical soon after it debuted in London. Then we heard that it would be making a Toronto debut about six months before hitting The Great White Way in New York. Always in need of a destination for a driving vacation, we bought tickets for the show and then planned our vacation around it.
We went through the Niagra Falls area before heading up to Toronto. While there we also saw the Canucki production of The Lion King since we were in the neighborhood. So when the Broadway run opened to rave reviews with the Canadian cast's Donna in the lead, we smugly bragged of our North American gun-jumping. It's not everybody that will plan an entire vacation around an Abba tribute.
The stage version has a fresh, clean production style that gets lost in the movie adaptaion. And as one movie critic mentioned, Pierce Brosnan did not get the part on the strength of his singing.
And while I unabashedly love all things ABBA, my wife takes it to a higher level. She called me this afternoon just to tell me that at the 11:15 show this morning, the audience was at best 20% guys. I told her, of course. Real men have to go to work rather than hit musical matinées.
And when we got home from the movie, our son was zonked on the couch from his all-night Dark Knight bash with his friends. Our local cineplex was dumping poorly attended screenings of other movies to add additional shows of both Dark Night and Mamma Mia!
Let's hope those Educating Rita alumni are getting a cut of the gross.
BlatantCommentWhoring™: Share your Abba-riffic memory. I know you have one.