Genre: Comedy, Romance, Musical
by: Phyllida Lloyd
Starring: Meryl Streep, Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth, Stellan Skarsgård, Christine Baranski, Julie Walters, Amanda Seyfried, Dominic Cooper
Released by: Universal Pictures
Short: Despite a thin story and earnest campiness, crowds will scream "I do, I do, I do, I do, I do" for this ABBA-fest.
Mamma Mia isn't a great film, but that won't stop it from becoming a classic.
On a Greek island that seems to be shrouded in estrogen, the lithesome 20-year-old Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) is preparing for her wedding. But with no dad to give her away — as well as no one knowing who he is — she snoops through her mom's old diaries, inviting the three most-likely prospects (Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth and Stellan Skarsgård). They all show up, and Mom (aka Donna, played by Meryl Streep) does a freak-out that's worthy of the film's title.
Phyllidia Lloyd reprises her direction of the hit stage musical, and the result is sunny, bubbly, and quite possibly the ultimate chick flick—masterful counterprogramming against the test-fest The Dark Knight, which also opens the same weekend.
It's deliciously perverse to watch Streep, America's screen queen, milk maximum meaning from the ABBA songs that fill this film. She clearly had a blast with the role, and her clifftop rendition of "The Winner Takes it All" is a genuine showstopper. Other numbers range from "slap-my-face" silly to bouncy-but-hunhhh? A literal Greek chorus of ladies in babushkas trail Streep and pals (Julie Walters and Christine Baranski) as they dig the dancing queen, and barely post-pubescent guys frolic around shirtless (see "chick flick," above).
All that said, Mamma Mia is no movie musical triumph like Chicago or Hairspray. Though totally loveable, it's music in search of a story. A really great musical has it the other way around.
Reviewed by Andrew Bender
(Updated: 07/14/08 KR)