Directed by: Phyllida Lloyd
Cast: Meryl Streep, Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth, Amanda Seyfried, Stellan Skarsgård
Running Time: 1 hr 45 min
Plot: Adapted from the stage musical and crafted from the music of ABBA, comes a story of a mother (Streep) preparing for her daughter Sophie’s (Seyfried) wedding. Complications arise when Sophie invites her three potential fathers to the big day.
Who’s It For? If you hear “Dancing Queen” and can’t sit still, if you saw the musical and immediately bought the soundtrack, well then, go see it. Women are going to love this movie.
Expectations: I scoffed at a good friend when he saw the musical in Minneapolis. I have never been an ABBA fan. But when I heard Meryl Streep had the lead, I was intrigued. After all, around this time last year Hairspray came out and shocked me.
Meryl Streep as Donna: Nailed it. Did we have any doubt? The most amazing thing about her performance is that there is barely a character defined. Streep is strutting around in all of her glorious plainness. It’s amazing and rare to see an actress dress down, look beautiful and her voice? Yes, that’s great too.
Pierce Brosnan as Sam: Sam is one of the potential father’s and a love that got away from Donna. That’s all you need to know. More importantly, can he sing? Well… it’s fun. Brosnan belts out the tunes and it’s more of a deep belly, growling kind of singing. Amusing to watch, especially “S.O.S.”
Amanda Seyfried as Sophie: Sophie kind of gets in the way. The story starts and ends with her, and it’s supposed to be her search for her dad, but the movie never feels like it’s really about Sophie. This is about watching famous actors sing ABBA.
Rest of Cast: Julie Walters is the scene stealer of the film and definitely gets the most laughs. Skarsgård is close to that level. Unfortunately, they both disappear in the second half and then are given a moment to sing “Take a Chance.”
Talking: The premise could have been over in 10 minutes if the characters just sat down and talked. But the film is filled with almost conversations and that’s how it’s extended to almost two hours, that and very entertaining end credits.
Sights & Sounds: Infectious joy. I’m starting to realize South Park isn’t the only musical I really like. Greece or wherever they filmed looked insanely beautiful and it was a shame whenever they used a set or green screen. Songs like “Money Money Money” didn’t fit with Donna’s true motivations, but other songs like “Mamma Mia” and “Dancing Queen” … sigh … were truly great musical moments.
Mamma Mia! is a summer breeze. At first, it feels a little too warm and stuffy. It’s just hot air. But quickly it becomes a hint cooler and very enjoyable. It’s not really a film. Not in the classical sense. There is barely a story here, and it isn’t told very well. The songs don’t fully fit with the character’s motivations and some feel forced into the movie like “Take a Chance.” You want to roll your eyes at these performances, but it’s almost a feeling of jealousy because they are all having so much fun. And the women’s friendships feel more genuine and heartfelt than Sex and the City’s attempt. This is entertainment, not a movie. And as entertainment goes, Mamma Mia! belts it out of the park.
Score: 7 out of 10