MAMMA MIA!

Directed by Phyllida Lloyd. 2008.


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Consider it a guilty pleasure, but I was caught up in the charm and high spirits of Mamma Mia! For those who have been asleep, this is the film version of the hit Broadway musical, a movie incidentally that has now surpassed Titanic as the biggest box office hit in UK history. Culled from the jukebox tunes of the Swedish pop group Abba that roll around in your head forever, the film stars the ubiquitous Meryl Streep and the ever charming Pierce Brosnan, two enormously popular Hollywood stars, as the romantic leads with some strong supporting help.

Set on a remote Greek island, Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) is about to be married to Sky (Dominic Harper) but wishes her dad was there to give her away. Seems like she doesn’t really know who her father is so she invites to the wedding the three men her mother Donna (Meryl Streep) has written about in her diary: Bill (Stellan Skarsgard) who writes travel books, Harry (Colin Firth) a banker, and Sam (Pierce Brosnan) a businessman. Donna, who runs a crumbling hotel on the island, is naturally quite taken aback when she sees her ex-boyfriends and it is left up to Sophie and friends Rosie (Julie Walters) and Tanya (Christine Baranski) to sort everything out. None of the men realize, however, why they have been invited but when things sink in, each claims to be Sophie’s father and is ready to walk her down the aisle.

Ultimately, the three wise men do everything in their power to make the wedding a success which leads to some silly moments and some that are genuinely moving. Amanda Seyfried has a purity and innocence about her that is quite captivating and Meryl Streep, though not blessed with a great singing voice, more than makes up for it with her passion and versatility. Her singing is more than adequate, however, especially in Slipping Through My Fingers, The Winner Takes It All, Money, Money, Money, Voulez-Vous, and Does Your Mother Know?  

With stunning photography and timeless Abba hits of the 1970s such as Dancing Queen, Take a Chance on Me, Mamma Mia, SOS, Super Trooper and many others, the film is pure entertainment. If the director had included some real singers and dancers and fewer manic production numbers, it might have even been memorable. Barring that, one settles for great songs and positive energy.

GRADE: B+

Howard Schumann
 
 
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