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Movie Review: Mamma Mia!
Tony D, Hardcore Film Maniac   |  

Mamma MiaMamma Mia!
Directed by Phyllida Lloyd
Starring Meryl Streep, Amanda Seyfried, Pierce Brosnan
Rated PG-13
Release date: July 18, 2008

Mamma Mia! is one of the more familiar musicals to be made into a film. I’ll admit, I haven’t seen it, but the only musical that I’ve seen on Broadway (and off Broadway) was Evil Dead: The Musical and I don’t regret that the least bit. Put together from a bunch of ABBA songs, Mamma Mia! became a hit everywhere. The makers of the show were once nothing, and now they are two of the wealthiest people in England. So with the great buzz from the musical, wouldn’t the movie version be just as great?

Mamma Mia! doesn’t take long to get into and the plot is very simple. Twenty-year-old Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) is getting married and she wants her father to give her away. Unfortunately, she doesn’t know who her father is, so she steals her mother’s journal and finds three possible fathers. The day before the wedding, the men — Bill (Stellan Skarsgard), Harry (Colin Firth), and Sam (Pierce Brosnan) — all meet Sophie at the wedding. They’re not quite sure why they’re there, but it all seems clear to them that they all haven’t seen Sophie’s mother Donna (Meryl Streep) for about the same amount of time — twenty years.

The film starts out as well as a film can start out as. Mamma Mia! introduces all of the characters in the first fifteen minutes, so for the rest of the story, we can watch them develop and get to know them better. Sophie is just like every girl that doesn’t have a father figure in her life — she just wants one or to at least know who her father is. Donna can be described as the town whore back in her day, but the past is behind her and she gave up on that. And the three men, brought in by Sophie, are all here to see Donna, not actually knowing that Sophie invited them so she can meet her father.

Mamma Mia! would be an excellent character study piece, if only the entire film was like that. For the first half, we are sure of all of the characters’ intentions. In the second half of Mamma Mia!, all of the characters’ intentions are forgotten, and the plot is focused on who is the father. No matter who the father is, the end results will be disappointing. I’m not going to spoil the ending for the people who don’t know just who the father is, but don’t be surprised if you find yourself having the same exact feelings as me — disappointment and a waste.

The musical numbers in Mamma Mia! should have been excellent and fun to watch. For the first half, they really are. I’m not going to lie and say that they aren’t, but for the first few songs, I had a lot of fun with them. My biggest complaint is that the musical numbers always end with a sigh of relief. You know the kind that I’m talking about. I remember watching Barney the Dinosaur back when I was younger, and every time a song would end, they would fall down and sigh. Mamma Mia! made me feel like I was stuck in an episode of Barney.

The second half is sloppier when it comes to the musical numbers. Not that it is sloppier because a lot of the songs are out of place (and believe me, a lot of them are), but now it just seems like the actors are trying to prove something. Meryl Streep’s performance of “The Winner Takes All” is just her trying to prove that she CAN get an Oscar nomination by singing this song. Pierce Brosnan is just trying to prove that he can sing, in which he fails horribly. Julie Walters has a song near the end of the movie, which proves that even though her character didn’t do anything throughout the entire movie, her role is no longer incredibly useless.

The only actor that really does bring anything to the table is young Amanda Seyfried. She seems to be the only person in on the joke that the movie really is for fun, and she gives the film her all. Amanda Seyfried’s role is a lot like Nikki Blonsky’s role in Hairspray in a lot of ways. Their characters aren’t similar, but I found myself looking at an excellent actress with a talent for singing. Make no assumption that Amanda Seyfried was miscast as the bride.

But everyone else isn’t nearly as lucky. Pierce Brosnan is only here for star power. I don’t even know what Colin Firth does here. His role is so small that I would have rather had Sophie mail her two possible fathers. Dominic Cooper plays Sophie’s boyfriend, and aside from one musical number, he’s ignored for almost the rest of the movie until the end of the second half. None of them really add much to the film.

Mamma Mia! is, without a doubt, THE biggest disappointment this summer, and possibly one of the biggest disappointments all year. I don’t know how fans of the musical will react to this film, but if they react the same way I did, I know that at least I’m not alone.

** out of ****


  1. Sorry to hear it is a disappointment.
    Good review.

    Comment by Jerry — July 18, 2008 @ 8:55 am

  2. I kinda feel bad for everyone involved with this film. I mean it looks terrible and retarded from the get-go, but it’s also opening against the Dark Knight.

    That just spells bomb right there.

    Comment by indecks — July 18, 2008 @ 11:00 am

  3. this is one of the few plays i’ve actually seen, which ended up being great… it’s funny to think of ol’ Pierce taking a stab at singing, yeeesh

    Comment by movie buff — August 13, 2008 @ 4:00 am

  4. This is THE BEST movie this summer!

    Meryl Streep was AMAZING.

    It’s ur loss u didn’t enjoy it

    Comment by EmilyS — September 30, 2008 @ 3:15 am

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