Abba: The Movie (1977) - Can't Stop the Movies
Can't Stop the Movies

Abba: The Movie (1977)

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Danny INDIFFERENTAbba: The Movie is an anthropological document of the fad that was Abba in the late 70's. As a bellwether for the 70's post-Beatles world, the group epitomized a cheery bright disposition that is either infectious or obnoxious depending on your ideological perspective.

As for my personal taste, let me simply note that I saw Mamma Mia in the theater willingly.

That being said, I'm not a blind consumer of Abba by any means, though "Waterloo" is currently stuck in my head. For all of their bubble headed pop-minded silliness, Abba is not a band that lends itself to much more than sixty minutes of joy.

It does lend itself to weird shit on occasion though.

Following the band on a whirlwind tour of Australia, Abba: The Movie is an intensely authentic crystallization of the world when it was made. You see the streets lined with Abba t-shirts, hats, socks, boardgames, and dogs wearing and playing with all of the above. The Abba fever is overheating Australia so much that one radio station assigns a reluctant DJ to track the band down. That he's a Country Western DJ seems of little consequence.

The DJ, of course, represents the skeptic, and his exploration of the history, mythos, and music of Abba eventually lead him to being in love with the band as well. This string thin narrative serves to connect us between a lot of the groups well known songs played in concert, and a few of their better-left-forgotten songs.

If you've ever wanted to see Abba in concert (and, let's not kid ourselves, who doesn't), this might be your best opportunity for it. The Australian audiences certainly get into it, and the infectious love that the fans have for the group (including more than a few middle aged men who seem to enjoy various Abba singers' spandex-clad posteriors) are revealing. Everyone likes Abba because they're pretty, sexy, and fun for the whole family. On top of that, the simple joy that Abba seems to get out of performing still radiates brightly.

But the performances are uniformly... uniform. The pop chords of Abba mesh together, while the film's genuine plot about the DJ's attempt to get the interview is undermined by the constant stream of cliches involved. The worst part is that the plot's climax-- the DJ's interview with the band-- is off-screen, effectively meaning that there isn't a climax to the film. Why the hell would you put a plot into your film if you're not going to do anything with it?

But, hey, lots of concert footage. Lots.

A straight concert documentary might have been substantially better, though it might not have had quite the same punch. It's interesting to see Abba Mania in the flesh, and if the rare glimpses we get backstage were less shameless publicity and more real, then we may have had something.

Unsurprisingly, Abba: The Movie is for Abba completists only. Or men who like look at spandex-clad posteriors. You know, either or both.

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Posted by Danny

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