Director: Phyllida Lloyd
Stars: Meryl Streep, Julie Walters, Christine Baranski, Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth, Stellan Skarsgard.
My rating: 8/10
If you liked this, youíll like: Hairspray (the 1988 John Waters version!), Grease
First, a confession: I am a huge ABBA fan. I know every single word to every single song on every single record. So I was certainly pre-disposed to enjoying Mamma Mia, which combines lots of ABBA music with heart-warming comedy and a beautiful Greek island setting. What did surprise me, however, was that I absolutely loved it.
The film is set on a Greek island, where taverna owner Donna Sheridan (Meryl Streep) is hosting her daughter Sophieís wedding. What she doesnít know is that Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) has a surprise in store for her. After reading her motherís diary, Sophie has ascertained that her father, who she has never met, could be one of three men. To ensure that her father gets to give her away at her wedding, she has taken the precaution of inviting all three prospective candidates!
While this is a rather peculiar turn of events, the movie keeps its tongue firmly in itís cheek all the way, and I forgave the script a few unlikely plot elements because it retained a sense of humour throughout. This film isnít meant to be taken seriously, itís designed to be a funny karaoke movie, and it does exactly what it says on the tin.
The younger cast, especially Sophie Sheridan and her fiancťe Sky (Dominic Cooper), were all fairly forgettable, with the notable exception of Pepper (Phillip Michael) who had lots of energy and a lovely flat stomach and managed to hold his own among the more experienced members of the cast.
The casting for the main characters was absolutely spot-on, especially Meryl Streep, Julie Walters and Christine Baranski. They worked together perfectly as a trio of friends, who despite the separation of time and geography, slip instantly back into close friendship when theyíre together and then waste no time in reminding each other of how to raise a little hell. Iíve loved Christine Baranskiís dirty laugh since ĎCybillí and she gets ample opportunity to use it here. At 59, Meryl Streep is so beautiful that she still knocks spots off most up-and-coming actresses. Itís a crying shame that there is a dearth of roles for older women in Hollywood, when this is the truly stellar calibre of performance we miss out on.
The boys were also quite special, and Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth and Stellan Skarsgard play off each other as the three very different men who could be Sophieís father. Pierce Brosnan and Colin Firth should both be banned from singing and dancing on screen ever again, but there is something wonderful about watching them both shake off their upright James Bond / Mr. Darcy personas and have a good time on screen.
The music and dancing was pure karaoke joy, as every song is treated as an excuse to dance wildly with an islander and then jump into the crystal blue sea. The film also supports my long-held theory that there is an ABBA song appropriate to every moment in your life. Take a chance on it; I donít think youíll be disappointed!
See this film - if you want some no-quibble, uplifting, sing-a-long fun
Donít see this film Ė if you hate gaping plot-holes and 70s disco tunes