You cannot really be too harsh on a film like this; it’s pure, escapist fun. I’ve never enjoyed musicals for the simple reason that when I see actors break out in to song, the suspension of disbelief evaporates, leaving a corny, unreal feel to the proceedings. “Mamma Mia!” is not immune to that problem, however, the cast sing and act in such a genuine fashion, with a story that is directed with passion and enthusiasm by original stage director Phyllida Lloyd, that it’s hard not to have fun watching the trials of young Sophie as she tries to establish who her real father is, and in the process, uncover her mother’s more promiscuous past so she can move forward with her own wedding, marriage and life.
The story is very simple: young Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) is about to be married, but she has never known the identity of her true father. One day, she discovers her mother’s diary and learns that she could have three possible fathers. She decides to secretly invite all three to her wedding. When her mother Donna (Meryl Streep) finds out, all hell breaks loose, or should I say, all music breaks loose as the characters all come to terms with what happened in the past so they can all move forward.
The story and plot are a little thin, but it somehow manages to provide a great structure to hang the ABBA songs, and they fit very well within this framework. Another plus is the setting; a beautiful Greek island which sets the stage for a grander canvas than most musicals can afford. One caveat though is the studio-based work looks blatantly obvious, particularly when sequences move from location to studio, highlighting the differences between the natural beauty of the island and the harsh, blue-screen work of the studio. This is perhaps the only technical down-side to Phyllida Lloyd’s direction in that these transitions were not done particularly well.
ABBA songs are inherently catchy, and you would have heard them at one time or another. Almost all of their hits, and certainly all of their very well known hits are sung with much sincerity, passion and enthusiasm by an energetic cast. Meryl Streep leads the way, proving that she is very talented singer as well as an actress. Amanda Seyfried, although a little over the top in the acting department does a magnificent job singing some of the tougher songs. The men even have a good show, with only Pierce Brosnan looking odd at times, not handling the more theatrical aspects of the piece as well as the rest of the cast.
One of the nicest parts of this film is that the identity of the father is not actually revealed in the end because nobody knows. All three men decide to be a part of Sophie’s life with her consent, making way for a very happy, yet somewhat unconventional ending where everybody gets to live happily ever after, as befits a film of this type.
“Mamma Mia! The Movie” is corny but fun. The film is a must for all ABBA fans and/or musicals.
For the complete, original DVD review, click this link: http://www.allaboutmovies.net/dvdreviewmammamia.htm
Alex DeMattia is the lead DVD reviewer at the film/DVD review web site All About Movies.net. He also contributes reviews and articles for the Digicosm Film Blog: http://www.filmannex.com/Digicosm