Not long ago, I was invited to hang out with some adult female friends. We had such a good time acting really silly. We had make-up contests, wore fake jewelry, told jokes, danced, sang, ate and played those games that asked questions like, “If you were on a stuck on a desert island and you could on have a guy, or your dog” which would you choose?”; told stories and acted generally like we were little girls. It was the best time, pure, clean fun, I have had in long time.
As I watched Meryl Streep dance and sing her heart out as Donna in the new film Mamma Mia! I was cast back to that evening of fun. Mama Mia! the movie version of the Broadway musical featuring the songs of the popular 70’s and 80’s Swedish group ABBA, is a tuneful, good time. It is however, the kind of good time you aren’t expecting to have.
Normally, watching people “try” to sing, especially the men in the film, is not fun. But the energy, atmosphere, and spirit of Mamma Mia! will either have you cheering “007” (Brosnan) for trying to croon or feeling a tad sorry for the poor chap and his pals.
Worry not. Mamma Mia! is full of enchanting visions of the Greek Isles, big dance numbers and love light. Based on a long-running musical of the same name, written by British playwright Catherine Johnson, the plot for the musical Mamma Mia! was adapted from the 1968 film Buona Sera, Mrs. Campbell.
Sophie (Seyfried) is about to get married at the tender age of 20 and has invited two of her best girlfriends and three former beaus of her mother, one of whom just might be her father. Donna (Streep), Sophie’s Mom invited her dear friends and former back-up singers (Baranski and Walters.) Confusion ensues, as the bride-to- be tries to keep the men from her mother and fiance. “Who My Baby Daddy?” might be better title if you want the film to appeal to the Hip Hop generation, Mamma Mia! is a feel good film. A couple of the songs featuring (Seyfried) are very bubblegum, but the rest of the numbers have their own charm. A favorite number is watching Baranski dance and playfully thwart the advances of a hot, young man (Philip Michael) while singing “Does Your Mother Know?” Couple that with the Greek traditions, décor and villagers, a real bunch of plain folk who sing chorus and dance in most of the numbers are a pleasure to watch.
Women young and old will connect with this musical, as will single moms, and fellas who can appreciate fluffy tunes. It’s Greece! The boats, the beach, the waves, the white villas. It is all so beautiful, and teary in parts. Particularly, when Donna (Streep) sings “The Winner Takes It All” to Sam Carmichael (Brosnan), those who have loved and lost just might have to carry tissues. Another tear jerking scene is the Donna and Sophie duet “Slipping Through My Fingers”, which was sung as the single mother assists her bride daughter in getting ready for the ceremony.
Before the films end you’ll be bouncing in your seat and singing along. The audience I saw the film with was completely interactive, and even clapped at some of the numbers and cheered at the end. That hasn’t happened since I sat in several Dreamgirls screenings a couple of years ago. That’s one of the reasons I placed this in the Action Movies category, this film full of energetic dances numbers that make you want to move!
Every musical note is not on key, and every actor does not have singing as a forte, but the spirit of Mamma Mia prevails, and is a complete recipe for a good time.
Are you an ABBA fan? If so, don’t jump out of your seat and run out of the theatre when you “think” the film is over, wait until the actual end of the film, in full sequins costumes and the men in loud Elvis type suits, Streep and company dial into full concert mode and the cast rocks out on a few ABBA numbers with joy and glee. Too fun! Really!