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Mamma Mia! (2008)

Mamma Mia! The Movie

The Music. The Romance. The Movie.

Directed by:

Phyllida Lloyd

Rating: 7/10

Running Time: 108 minutes

US Certificate: PG-13 UK Certificate: PG


Country: United Kingdom

Mamma Mia! is the kind of movie you know going in whether or not you’re going to like it. Two prerequisites—must love ABBA and must love musicals. And really, knowing that it’s a film (based on the stage play of the same name) that’s entire plot revolves around fusing ABBA’s poppy concoctions with a perky little love story, are you really going in looking for high art?

Back in the day, Donna Sheridan (Meryl Streep) really got around, and her about-to-be-married daughter Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) has learned, from her mother’s old diary, that one of three men could be her biological father. Determined to discover the truth and be led down the aisle by her true dad, Sophie has invited the three clueless prospects (Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth, and Stellan Skarsgård) to her big fat Greek wedding, much to the chagrin of her mother. Dancing and singing ensue.

Fans of musicals are a different type of people. I myself am one, so I accept and adore the oft-hated conventions that infuse the genre—the breaking into song for no reason, the usually thin plots whose main reasons for being are usually to induce more singing, the bright shiny costumes and colors. Mamma Mia! has no shortage of any of those elements. Plus, with the ABBA component, it’s even happier than usual in this singing world of love lost and love found. But for all the naysayers, the critics who reviled this movie as one of the worst of 2008, you’re missing the point.

Of course it’s campy, over-acted, and slightly shrill at times when Donna and her friends—or Sophie and her friends—get together and squeal away about something. And of course Pierce Brosnan can’t sing. But the movie’s fun, Streep (and most of the rest of the cast) CAN sing, and you get the feeling while watching that even if the cast knew they were working on something that wasn’t quite up to the “status” of Doubt—or heck, even Hairspray—that they were having a blast. This is especially evident in the scenes involving Christine Baranski and Julie Walters as Donna’s friends Tanya and Rosie; both hit their best friend roles running and give them their all. Which is actually one aspect of the film that can be seen as either a positive or negative, depending on where you come down on the whole musical subject—much of the film reflects the melodramatic and overly done style that’s needed to reach the back of the auditorium, which isn’t really necessary on film and can come off as loud and off-putting. My take? Who cares? Grab a feather boa, sing along, and lighten up for a bit.

It's Got: Lots of ABBA, unabashed musical happiness, horrible Brosnan singing.

It Needs: To be a little less theater, a little more movie.

DVD Extras Two-Disc Special Edition - Deleted Musical Number: "The Name of the Game, "Feature Commentary by Director Phyllida Lloyd, Seven Featurettes: "The Making of Mamma Mia! The Musical," "A Look Inside Mamma Mia! The Movie,” "Behind the Scenes with Amanda,” "On Location in Greece,” “Anatomy of a Musical Number: 'Lay All Your Love On Me’,” “Becoming a Singer." "Gimme Gimme Gimme" Music Video, Deleted Scenes and Outtakes, Björn Ulvaeus Cameo, Digital Copy of the Film DVD Extras Rating: 8/10


A Prairie Home Companion, Grease, Hairspray


It’s no Grease or Sweeney Todd, but Mamma Mia! doesn’t promise anything it doesn’t deliver, and for the musical fan or the ABBA geek, it’s worth a sing-along.


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