Anyone who knows me knows I love musicals. And although I would never have considered myself an 'fan', I have always liked a lot of their infectious feel good music. Of course I am of the age that considered ABBA a dance floor staple! I think that's what I like about "Mama Mia" the most: it featured a mature cast and that is wonderfully refreshing and totally shocking coming from Hollywood!
That being said, , for me personally, was the weakest musical I've seen on the big screen since Hollywood embraced its musical revival. I was far more appreciative of Hair Spray and Sweeney Todd., heck even Once. Far less flaws in the material, performances and execution.
Strung together with popular and not so popular ABBA songs, Mama Mia tells the story of a former wild child, now aging gracefully mother ( ) and her beautiful daughter (Amanda Seyfried) who live in a beautiful Greek coastal village. With the daughter's impending marriage, she reaches out to three men (Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth, Stellan Skarsgard) she reads about in her mother's 21 year old diary, in hopes that one of them is the father she never knew. The father her mother never told her about. The father she hopes will walk her down the aisle. Meanwhile, her mother has invited her dear friends and former singing group members (Christine Baranski, Julie Walters) to share in the festive nuptials.
"Mama Mia" is surprisingly fun considering its two main leads are not singers. While Meryl Streep's vocal renditions range from the barely okay to quite nice, she clearly was too insecure and pushed way too much, way too often. Her performance was extremely forced. I'm a huge Meryl Streep fan so my disappointment in her took me by surprise. And it's totally based on her acting not her voice. fared much better, in spite of having no singing talent whatsoever. I found myself more forgiving because he made it work by delivering a sincere, believable character as opposed to just mugging constantly and going over the top.
On the other hand, Colin Firth, Stellan Skarsgard, Christine Baranski and Julie Walters gave outstanding support. I was particularly impressed with Julie Walters' fine voice. She was so much fun to watch and pulled focus every time. In my opinion, she gave the star performance in this ABBA love fest.
Amanda Seyfried was particularly adorable as the daughter in search of a father, with a voice as clear and beautiful as her sweet face. But overall, the musical's best moments are supplied by the few full out chorus numbers (that seemed to lack any real choreography) with the multigenerational all female being a show stopper.
The setting is dazzling, the music joyous and the whole movie has a feel good vibe as most musicals do. Even though it is far from my favorite musical, I encourage you to say 'I do'!
"Mama Mia" warbles 3 Red Vines for booty shaking fun
LADIES ROOM LOWDOWN: Let it be known that I was alone in my criticism of Mama Mia. Most people in the audience I saw it with and my companion for the evening enjoyed it very much. But love it or hate it, don't leave it until you see the credits. A real treat is in store for you so don't dance out of the theatre till the mirror ball goes dark!