What the fuss is all about, I have no idea, because Evita is just another bad movie starring one of our worst actresses, Madonna. The catch is, this time she gets to sing sing sing for 2 1/2 hours -- sing until she can sing no more -- sing until your ears bleed.
Evita has had a long and sordid past as a motion picture project, and it's easy to see why. The fact that Evita makes a mockery of Argentina's most beloved personage and the filmmakers wanted to shoot there is almost beside the point. There's the problem that movie musicals have tended to be huge flops over the last 40 years; the problem of Madonna's inability to act; the problem that Eva Peron was basically an egomaniac that died 40 years ago and that no one in America really cares about anymore. And when co-screenwriter Oliver Stone gets involved... yikes! They might as well have made a musical called Oswald!
But they didn't. Instead, Evita rumbles through the plot points in Eva Peron's life like a freight train. From stargazing child to slutty gold-digger to talentless actress to the wife of the President, it's no wonder why Madonna fought so hard for this part -- it's straight out of her life (except for the President part... so far)! No acting required! And she gets to sing the whole time!
And what's with all this singing, anyway? Yes, I know it's from Andrew Lloyd Webber (who, after seeing Cats, I believe is seriously disturbed), and as a traditional musical, Evita might have had a prayer. But electric guitars and synthesizers? Discordant, headache-inducing chants? A capella, sing-song dialogue between characters? Sheesh, Evita is more like The Who's Tommy than Singin' in the Rain. (It's no surprise that director Alan Parker also created Pink Floyd The Wall.) I half-expected Madonna to start rolling around in baked beans a la Ann-Margret.
No such luck. Instead we have to listen to the likes of Antonio Banderas's singing narrator, which sounds a lot like he has his cajones in a vise. Or the very British Jonathan Pryce as Juan Peron(!), singing about how he ran the British out of Argentina. The hilarity of these two performing is almost as much fun as the real treat of Evita: trying to see how many ways Madonna can cover up her blossoming pregnancy. How many arms, hats, and flower bouquets can she hold across her waist? A lot.
In all fairness, Banderas is a diamond in the rough here, in a part of comic relief that is desperately needed among the Very Serious performances. Also, a few of the songs are tolerable, even memorable, even if they rarely make sense. But, in the end, I have to pan Evita, if for no other reason than it's just plain goofy. And some parting words for Madonna, in a lyrical fashion she may be able to finally understand:
I saw your movie/Now keep your distance.
Don't cry for me, Madonna. Don't hit me, either.
Run time: 135 mins
In Theaters: Friday 10th January 1997
Box Office Worldwide: $141M
Production compaines: Hollywood Pictures, Cinergi Pictures Entertainment
Contactmusic.com: 2 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 64%
Fresh: 23 Rotten: 13
IMDB: 6.3 / 10
Director: Alan Parker
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