Mamma Mia! My Reviews 06 SEP 2008

Mamma Mia…Here We Go Again.

20 year old Sophie is about to get married to the carefree Sky on her mother Donna Sheridan’s run-down resort situated on the isolated Greek island of Kalokairi, but she has a secret – she has a burning desire to learn who her real father is… and do it in time so that he can walk her down the aisle on the upcoming big day.

Having recently discovered her mom’s secret diary from the time when she was pregnant with her, Sophie has narrowed down the list to three possible candidates: American architect Sam Carmichael, British banker Harry Bright and Swedish sailor and travel writer Bill Anderson. Not knowing for sure which of the three it is, Sophie hatches a brilliant scheme that may just reunite her with her real dad – or bring the idyllic life as it is crashing down around them.

But there is one thing Sophie has not exactly counted on – just how will her mom Donna react after being reunited with the three men she loved once upon a time and who all three deserted her in the very end!

Mamma Mia! is a 2008 musical film adaptation of the hit West Wend stage musical ‘Mamma Mia!’, based on the songs of super successful Swedish pop group ABBA. The movie is directed by newcomer Phyllida Lloyd and stars Meryl Streep, Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth, Stellan Skarsgard, Amanda Seyfried, Julie Walters and Christine Baranski in the lead roles.

Mamma Mia! can only be described as a feel good, sing along love story that has all the drama and romance of a Greek comedy with loads of humorous situations thrown in for good measure. It is a musical spectacular based on a sun-soaked Greek island which lends itself for the sunny and bright atmosphere that plays out for most of the movie. There is basically no dark and depressing moments and the movie hurtles along at breakneck speed as we hop from one fun musical number to the next.

The plot is pretty thin and the story’s result pretty predicable, all of which draws a little away from the movie as a whole, but thankfully the stellar performances from each and every cast member saves it from total mediocrity and you are left with what is a fun viewing experience that is sure to leave your woman crying, laughing and just in a good mood by the time that the final credits roll.

Meryl Streep once again impresses us with her singing talent and captures the spirit of Donna to perfection, linking up beautifully as the care-free mother to the equally talented and loveable Amanda Seyfried who puts in an excellent performance as the daughter struggling to find her father. The comical pairing of Julie Walters with Christine Baranski is a hit and they back up Meryl Streep with ease, adding a lot of the humour into this already fun production. Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth and Stellen Skarsgard are cast as the three possible dads and to be honest one can’t help but wonder if their placement were simply based on looks and star appeal alone because one has to admit that the likes of Pierce Brosnan does not exactly have a killer voice and he gets shown up quite badly in some of the duets. Nevertheless all the actors seem to put 100% behind both their singing and acting performances, and the whole cast just oozes fun and light-heartedness and it is pretty easy to see that working on this movie in the first place must have been an absolute blast.

Better known for her work as a theatrical director in the world of big production stage plays, Mamma Mia! is director’s Phyllida Lloyd’s feature debut and perhaps there was no better way for her to start her big screen career than with directing a musical feature film. She makes extensive use of angle changes and good scene compositions that leaves us with a film that is both breathtaking to look at and intimately human all at the same time. Expert camera work and lighting choices helps aid the movie and in the end produces a top-notch, visually feel-good spectacular.

Obviously Mamma Mia! (being the musical that it is) revolves entirely around the music and certainly the lovers of all things ABBA will not go home disappointed as almost every big hit makes an appearance in the movie in some or other form, usually delivering a good chuckle at the same time when paired with the equally fun visuals. While the overall quality of songs and singing is certainly top notch, just be aware that one or two of the actors have been picked for the role for their looks instead of their singing ability – though I guess that to the female demographic at which the movie is aimed, this should certainly not present any problems! ;)

Also, on the musical note, purists should be aware that obviously this being based on a stage musical means that all the songs are new renditions of the classics and are obviously not performed by ABBA. This means that there are one or two songs that have slightly been altered, both lyrically and performance-wise, with some being completely rearranged for better orchestral backup. However, for those fans that this may well upset, be assured that original ABBA member Benny Anderson handled most of these changes and additional music composition as well.

Mamma Mia! certainly captures the original feel-good mood that it was always intended to and as a musical it is certainly most enjoyable, particularly to all those closet and perhaps not so closet ABBA fans out there. Certainly us guys will feel the pain and torture of sitting through the whole film, there is no question about that, but be warned that if you don’t take your woman out to see this one ASAP, expect no loving for at least a month! :)

A solid, polished and extremely fun production that should appeal to almost everyone who doesn’t possess a pair of balls and is old enough to know the musical phenomena that was ABBA.

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About Craig Lotter

South African software architect and developer at Touchwork. Husband to a cupcake baker and father to two little girls. I don't have time for myself any more.