THERE HAS BEEN so much advance publicity about the Madonna movie there are hardly any surprises when you actually see the film. In fact, there are no surprises.
Of course, we still have the star, Madonna. She's a little girl, dressed up in clothes that may have belonged to Second Hand Rose's mommy. She talks dirty and comes on like a new Mae West, but a Mae West with no mystery.
It's hard not to like her, though. And it's hard not to like her film, even if you do get a little tired of it. Finally, you get a little too much of the star and her supporting performers praying before some of her concerts, and you get a little too much of the star carrying on with the dancers in her show.
What we don't get enough of is the show itself, which we did see on HBO but would like to see on the larger screen. What we do see of the show looks very interesting. Madonna does a number in which she may be a monk and the dancer with her, a priest. Who can tell? Whichever, it looks good, and so does most of the dancing, which is neither druggy nor Satanic.
This is the best of the documentary, this and some of the candid remarks the star makes.
Of course, you wouldn't want to trust her. Talking to Madonna would be a little like talking to Julia Phillips ("You'll Never Eat Lunch in This Town Again"). You wouldn't want to say anything that you wouldn't want to see used in a documentary featuring the star. She can always do another.
Warren Beatty is in there, but he comes off very well. Looking younger than he did in "Dick Tracy," the film he did with Madonna, Beatty is smart enough to say very little when he does hang around. He said more, but it was eliminated. The producers weren't sure they wouldn't be sued. They apparently had the assurance that the woman with whom Madonna experimented sexually as a child -- Madonna's story, not the woman's -- wouldn't sue, because they name her, and she appears on camera.
The woman says she was a topless dancer at the time and was on drugs, so who remembers?
There are also scenes in which her father catches her show, the scene in which the star visits the grave of her mother, the sexual business with the water bottle, the crotch grabs, the simulated sex, and the nudity, though there is very little of the last.
And Madonna does do a lot of eating. You may or may not enjoy watching that. She also spends a lot of time being made up, and she is very funny when she talks about the "big fat men who were sitting in front of the audience" and showed no appreciation for her show.
She's made of brass, this girl, and when she tells the press she will not compromise her artistic integrity, you want to believe she actually believes it. Even if you don't, it's funny.
There is a lot of that in the film, funny business that may be put-on and may not. Whichever, it amuses, even when Madonna says, a second time, that she will not trifle with her integrity. By her own admission, Madonna does not have a great voice. She also says she is not a great dancer, but she is a package. In fact, that's what this woman is all about, packaging, and you get to see some of the ribbons as they are tied in this film. You also get to see some of them untied.
"Madonna: Truth or Dare" is supermarket tabloid put to film. It is showing at local theaters.
"Madonna: Truth or Dare" ** Madonna goes on tour, and we see her on stage and off.
DIRECTOR: Alek Keshishian
RATING: R (language, sex, nudity)
) RUNNING TIME: 118 minutes