The Flick Chicks

Judy Thorburn's Movie Reviews

Mamma Mia!

Submit to DeliciousSubmit to DiggSubmit to FacebookSubmit to Google BookmarksSubmit to StumbleuponSubmit to TechnoratiSubmit to TwitterSubmit to LinkedIn

Judy Thorburn

"Mamma Mia!" - The Magic Is Lost In This 'Greece-y' Film Adaptation

Las Vegas Tribune - http://www.lasvegastribune.com
Las Vegas Round The Clock
- ht
tp://www.lasvegasroundheclock.com
The Women Film Critics Circle - http://www.wfcc.wordpress.com
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
">
kreatia@
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Flick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha Chemplavil

Mamma Mia! the beloved staged musical production, based on the songs of 70’s Swedish pop supergroup ABBA, is recognized as an international smash hit with productions in eight languages and 170 cities worldwide with audiences singing along and dancing in the aisles. I’ve seen the Las Vegas production at Mandalay Bay three times and with several changes in the cast, I’ve enjoyed each performance. As cheesy and bubble gum as the songs may be, I’ll admit there is something about the music and lyrics that is catchy, irresistible and infectious. So count me in as among the millions of fans who was anticipating this film version from the moment I heard it was in production with Meryl Streep cast as the Mamma of the title.

The question is, how does the acclaimed musical hold up as a film? On board is the same creative team from the original stage production led by director Phyllida Lloyd, making her film debut. But, I have to say, I am disappointed that in the transition to big screen, she didn’t take advantage of the opportunity to expand the musical on a bigger and grander scale. Unfortunately, her lack of experience behind the camera shows, and as a result, the clumsily shot film, which had the potential of being equally as magical as the stage production turns out to be pleasantly entertaining, but nothing to rave about.

The setting is an idyllic Greek Island (filmed on location) where single and free spirited, displaced American, Donna Sheridan (Streep) owns and runs a mountain top vacation villa. It’s the eve of her lovely 20 year old daughter Sophie’s wedding, and what Sophie (Amanda Seyfried, Mean Girls) is fixated on before saying “I do” to handsome fiancée Sky (Dominic Cooper, History Boys) is knowing the identity of her father, a subject Donna considers closed for discussion.

After finding and reading her mom’s diary, unbeknownst to Donna, Sophie secretly invites three former beaus from her mom’s past to the wedding hoping that one of the men will indeed be her dad and will walk her down the aisle to give her away. The three respective dads consist of former hippie, Sam (Pierce Brosnan) a divorced American architect, Harry (Colin Firth) a British banker, and Bill (Stellan Skarsgaard) a Swedish world adventurer. Meanwhile, Donna is joined by her old galpals, outspoken Rosie (Julie Walters) and man crazy Tanya (Christine Baranski) who, back in their earlier days, made up the glitter and glam pop group Donna and the Dynamos.

Along with helping Donna with the wedding preparations, you can count on her friends to supply some fun girl bonding, humorous antics, and of course, offer endearing support when it comes to Donna, unhappily coming face to face with her trio of romantic flings from two decades back. Needless to say, nineteen ABBA songs are infused into the storyline including Dancing Queen, Money Money Money, Chiquitita, Super Trouper, S.O.S and others.

Originally I thought Streep was too old and out of shape for the part. However, she appears to have slimmed down for the role, looks great in closeup shots thanks to softening camera lens, lighting and makeup, and does an admirable job, having loads of fun and impressing us with her singing voice especially during her emotional rendition of Winner Takes All that combines her renowned acting skills with vocal prowess. For me, the most effective and touching number is the mother to daughter song, Slipping Through My Fingers, that all women can relate to.

Blonde and adorable Seyfried is an excellent choice and delightful as the headstrong daughter. This girl can sing as well as act, which is more than I can say for handsome former James Bond, Pierce Brosnan. To put it bluntly, I was embarrassed for him and my ears ached listening to his attempt at belting out a song. It was excruciating! It is obvious star power/box office appeal overruled the ability to carry a tune, something musical theatre would never stand for.

Instead of fleshing out the characters, wrong script decisions were made in bringing the musical to the big screen including suddenly dropping characters or having one relegated to the sideline. In the opening sequence we are introduced to Sophie’s two best girlfriends who soon disappear and are forgotten. Even worse is Stellan Skarsgaard hapless character, Bill, who falls by the wayside after being introduced as one of the potential dads, but appears only occasionally looking mostly bewildered, until a silly sequence that squeezes in the number Take a Chance on Me. It was a mistake moving this number from its original midway placement in the stage show, to the near end. With lack of character development or insight into Rosie’s behaviour, the misplaced song seems thrown in as an afterthought with forced comical effect and it doesn’t work.

With all its faults, the energetic, upbeat film is a suitable option to the raunchy sophomoric comedies and superhero action movies presently in release. But, let’s get real. ABBA’s music is what has drawn over 30 million people to see the live production and that is what will bring them to the movie. That’s why the film will most likely make lots of money, money, money.