MARC’S REVIEW – Mamma Mia!

So at the urging of a close friend of mine, Alicia Spiegel, we all jumped in to watch the Dancing Queens, from the celebrated musical, Mamma Mia.

It’s a fun family film full of gorgeous, eye popping colors.  REALLY EYE POPPING!!!!!  Stay for the closing credits.  Wow Pierce Brosnan! You sure took a huge leap from James Bond here, that’s for sure.  Liberace, and maybe Elton John, would even blush at having to wear some of the costumes on display.  Naturally there are the big musical numbers as well, and big, I mean HUGELY ASTRONOMICAL MOMENTS OF JOY AND CHEERFULNESS!!!!  Jeez, the excitement of Meryl Streep, Amanda Seyfried, Christine Baranski and company make happiness look like an incurable disease. 

The sugar coated, dipped in maple syrup, and showered in Jolt Cola corniness of Mamma Mia is so sweet, you’ll have a fresh cavity by the time the film reaches its halfway point.  Still, during these challenging times,  it’s not so bad I guess, and likely just what we all need.  

The film concerns itself more with having fun than anything else amid a simple story of a young bride secretly inviting three likely candidates (Brosnan, Colin Firth and Stellan Skarsgard), one of which is potentially her biological father, to her upcoming nuptials, which will take place on the Greek Islands.  This welcomes awkward moments for the gentlemen when they each reunite with Streep.  It’s all very sitcomy.

The soundtrack uses the disco book of ABBA, complete with WaterlooTake A Chance On Me and of course Mamma Mia.  Though I appreciate the music of ABBA, my main issue is that other than two numbers (Slipping Through My Fingers and my favorite The Winner Takes It All), I could not see how any of the remaining music meshes with the story.   How do the lyrics of these songs drive the story of the musical?  I could not make a connection, and so I found myself asking why are they suddenly breaking out into Dancing Queen, for example.  What does this show stopping number have to do with the structure of the story?  The cast could have just as easily broken into We Will Rock You or Walk Like An Egyptian, and the lyrical relevance to the plot would have been just as separated.  No character sings a song that identifies with their respective purpose to the story.

Meryl Streep always challenges herself.  No two characters of hers are really ever the same, and thus she’s able to pull off a musical lead effectively.  I heard people frowned on Pierce Brosnan’s vocals, but I didn’t take issue.  I liked his duet with Streep.  Seyfried is a good compliment to Streep in a mother/daughter relationship as well.  Christine Baranski as Streep’s best friend is welcome and over the top silly escapism.

It won’t ever be my favorite film musical, but if I’m at a friend’s house and the majority wanna turn this on, then I’ll watch and enjoy the whole gang getting swept up in the Greek Isle setting of Utopian celebration and happiness.  I just won’t need to snack on my Mike & Ike’s or sip on my extra large Coke.  There’s already enough sugar emanating from the screen.

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