MPAA Rating: PG

Entertainment: +3

Content: +2

Several years in the making, the popular Tim Rice-Andrew Lloyd Webber musical finally hits the big screen, but not as a Broadway-style production with a lot of dancing. Rather it's a cinematic biography of Eva Pern, wife of former Argentine dictator Juan Pern, that just happens to be told in operatic style. The story begins in a Buenos Aires movie theater with an announcement about Eva's death, and then flashes back to show how she rose to prominence. Madonna turns out to be a good choice to play this legendary figure, despised by the upper class but adored by the masses. Cynical narrator Ch, nicely portrayed by Antonio Banderas, comments on the action, particularly biting during Eva's early years, when the peasant girl used various men to advance her own interests. Eventually she becomes an actress and finds her perfect mate in Juan Pern (Jonathan Pryce), a military officer making his own calculated rise to the top. Eva uses her radio show to appeal to the working class citizens while Pern is imprisoned. Soon he is released, they are married and Pern is elected president. As First Lady, Eva continues to embrace the common people, although Ch's view is that her charity work is simply a way to boost the presidential coffers. Eva's star burns out rather quickly when she dies of cancer at age 33, but she remains one of her country's most beloved icons. Shot mostly on location in Argentina, EVITA will surprise those who are familiar with only stage productions. But this impressive achievement will still entertain, chronicling a fascinating life in an unusual fashion.

Although many accounts report that Eva slept with many men to further her ambitions, the film only suggests this situation. She wakes up in bed with a singer who brings her to Buenos Aires, and later follows Pern to his bedroom. Argentina's political unrest is illustrated with explosions, cannon fire and beatings, but these scenes show the climate of the times and aren't excessive. The dialogue, which is almost entirely sung, has just four crude words and one mild obscenity. Unlike many of Madonna's previous projects, EVITA tells an interesting story in a respectable fashion.

Preview Reviewer: Mark Perry
Hollywood Pictures (Disney Co.) & Buena Vista Pictures , 3900 W. Alameda Ave., Burbank, CA 91521

The following categories contain objective listings of film content which contribute to the subjective numeric Content ratings posted to the left and on the Home page.

Crude Language: Few (4) times - Mild 1, Moderate 3

Obscene Language: Once (slang with sexual connotations)

Profanity: None

Violence: Several times - Moderate (explosions, cannon fire, beatings, earthquake victims)

Sex: Implied twice, no nudity

Nudity: None

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: Woman wakes up with man; woman goes to man's bedroom

Drugs: Smoking, alcohol drinking

Other: Apparently accurate but unverified docudrama

Running Time: 130 minutes
Intended Audience: Teens and adults

Click HERE for a PRINTER-FRIENDLY version of this review.