Mamma Mia! **1/2 (out of ****)

Director: Phyllida Lloyd
Writer: Catherine Johnson based on the stage musical
Cast: Meryl Streep, Amanda Seyfried, Colin Firth, Pierce Brosnan, Stellan Sarsquard, Julie Walters, Christine Baranski, Dominic Cooper
Rating: PG-13 (some sex-related comments)
Running Time: 108 min
Release Date: 7/18/08

Mamma Mia! is a screen adaptation of a stage musical that would be of interest to a selective audience. Intense Abba fans, intense Meryl Streep fans, and those who long for a musical that is just a little more lighthearted than Sweeny Todd. Speaking of Abba, the world famous Swedish pop group from the 1970s, did this film cover their entire discography? I really don’t know since I’m not that much of an Abba fan. I do own one Abba CD. Put it this way if you can’t stand Abba then skip this movie!

Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) is the out of wedlock daughter of Donna (Meryl Streep) who is in the final stages of planning her wedding. She has never met her father and doesn’t even know who he is. Snooping around she has found her mothers diary that covers the period of her conception. It turns out that her mother didn’t know who the father was either. You see Donna was a bit of a wild girl in her youth and had affairs with three different men in quick success at that time. Sophie decided that that it would be a really cool idea to invite all three to her wedding and surprise her mother.

The possibilities for a situation comedy are very apparent. The three men: Sam (Pierce Brosnan), Bill (Stellan Sarsquard), and Harry (Colin Firth) all arrive thinking that they have just found they have a daughter. Sophie at first tries to hide them from Donna. As is predictable this will fail creating all sorts of awkwardness as everyone very slowing discovers what is afoot. Sophie’s belief that she we be able to tell which one is her father fails as well. But all of this is even more reason to for various cast member to sing Abba songs.

The film is set on a Greek island and the backdrop is quite striking. Donna’s hotel is quaint but in need of continual repair. It does look like a fun vacation spot. Meryl Streep seems to really enjoy the role of Donna. It’s good to see Amanda Seyfriend again. I recall her role as the girl who could forecast the weather with her breasts in Mean Girls. She brings just the right about of daffiness to the role of Sophie as well.

As I said at the outset this film is not for everyone. But if you are looking for a break from action movies based on comic books and like or at least can tolerate nearly two hours of Abba songs then you might enjoy this one.


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