Bomb Rating: 

I hate to point out the obvious, but Americans would rather smokeasbestos than learn about history, much less Argentinean history. To make matters worse, Andrew Lloyd Webber came up with the grand idea of having this history lesson sung to us. Thanks. Maybe you could scribe the text into my forehead with a blowtorch while you're at it.

We meet little Eva during her father's death in the 1920s when she's traumatized by the fact that her father's side of the family won't let all the little bastards he spawned witness her funeral. The fact that her status bars her from her father's middle-class memorial turns Eva (Madonna) into a regular little Marxist who sleeps her way into the chambers of Argentine power in an apparent attempt to screw the middle class right back. She eventually meets and marries Juan Peron (Jonathan Pryce), who becomes President in 1946.

"Evita" is confusing because as Eva is climbing the social ladder, Argentine presidents are entering and exiting power faster than sailors in a whorehouse. To help the audience along, director Alan Parker uses a narrator, Che (Antonio Banderas), who, not unlike Mickey Mouse in Disneyland, tries to explain why all the people are so goofy. Rather than provide clarification, Banderas' whole Mickey Mouse singing routine makes you want to rip off his head and strangle the little midget inside of him operating the controls.

The singing hits its nadir when Peron lectures his cabinet members about the merits of his wife. Their response sounds like a chorus of the Oompah-Loompahs from "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory." The effect is about as powerful as the Argentine navy. It's so absurd that one suspects that Parker isn't celebrating the modern musical so much as eulogizing it -- or perhaps satirizing it. By film's end, it's hard to tell which.

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