From Sarah, With Joy

*Poet * Author * Wanderluster*

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Ridiculosity: Sydney White vs Mamma Mia

Lately I've realized something about being ridiculous; sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. I'm not exactly sure what makes the difference between the two, but there is something. The easiest way to demonstrate my point is with film, though my point can apply to writing and any other art form as well.

The two movies I would like to use as an example are 'Sydney White' and 'Mamma Mia.' These are interesting cases for me, because while I am not a young person movie, high-school drama-ish kind of person, I really enjoyed Sydney White. And while every move Meryl Streep makes is stunningly, breathtakingly brilliant, as a whole I really did not like Mamma Mia. (Don't get me wrong, she was still amazing in Mamma Mia. The only amazing thing about it.) Both of these movies are plain-old, good times ridiculous, but one worked for me and the other didn't. I'm not quite sure what made the difference, but I do have a few thoughts.

Maybe its self-consciousness. I feel like Sydney White was very consciously ridiculous. Lines like, "Things are looking grim, brothers," shows just how much fun the writers were having. I think there was lots of just being ridiculousness in Mamma Mia, but there were also moments when it was really trying to be serious, and they just didn't work, especially if Meryl Streep wasn't involved. Not only didn't they work, but they took some of the fun and umph away from the light-hearted ridiculousness too.

Maybe its the culturally embedded story. The plot of Mamma Mia is just a way the writers found to string Abba songs together, so its not a story we watch or hear as children. Ridiculousness can work with these kind of new, hodge-podge stories, but its not as easy. With Sydney White, the story was an adaptation of the Snow White fairy tale, so its a story we are all familiar with. This allows the story to go all out making fun of itself, and gives us lines like the one above. Renditions of fairy-tales are usually a safe bet in regards to ridiculosity.

What do you think? Obviously I'm still trying to figure this out, so any thoughts from you would be great. Because who doesn't want to try being ridiculous every once in a while, right?

Sarah Allen


  1. ha ha ha. okay, so I have a friend named Sydney White. And I was trying to figure out how you knew her and why you were comparing her to Mamma Mia...but then I read your blog and realized I've seen the movie Sydney White. I think it is quite ridiculous, and I enjoyed it because of that fact. But I haven't seen Mamma Mia yet. I have no real comment other than I do like ABBA.

  2. For me, having seen Mama Mia was an affront to my sense of morality. Consider the plot of a young woman who wants her father to be at her wedding and three men show up. Clearly, the character that Meryl Streep plays must have had a busy month those many years ago.

    We have enough of this going on in real life to have it glorified in a motion picture.

    Although the artist should have freedom of speech, it is my assertion that a sense of social responsibility be attached to the creative license.

    That was my reaction to Mama Mia; another movie that is dismissive of family values.

  3. I apologise if I've just posted a comment here but I hit the "X" button and seemed to loose it!

    What I was trying to say was I have the DVD of Mamma Mia but haven't yet watched it, mainly because people have told me how disappointed they were in it. I guess I should make some time and watch it soon. Blogging and tweeting takes over!! Found you via Twitter btw xx

  4. I've not only missed Sydney White, I hadn't heard of it until I read your post. I'll have to check it out. On the whole, I enjoyed Mama Mia, but it was definitely a musical and musicals tend to go into absurd areas. I put it down to the musical formula. But yes, sometimes ridiculous works and is hilarious and other times it's plain annoying. Off the top of my head I can't think of an example today. I'm sure they'll flood me later.

  5. Thanks for the comments everyone! Mamma Mia definitely doesn't show the best morals, and musicals can definitely take things to weird places. So these comments are great. Thanks!


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