Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Mamma Mia!

Every six seconds or so, much like the male brain in another pursuit, my mind starts singing a snippet of a song. Due to my movie-watching choices lately, these days it’s always ABBA.

And not just any ABBA song. All of them. From the stage show’s hit, Dancing Queen, the song we all wait for, to The Winner Takes It All, from SOS to Chiquitita. And Does Your Mother Know. Any ‘70’s fan of the Swedish music group knows that the list goes on and on.

And when you go to see Mamma Mia, you expect to be singing, if not out loud, than at least in your mind. The biggest surprise in this movie, especially for someone who’s seen the stage play Mamma Mia, is that Meryl Streep can really sing. I mean, really. It’s such a pleasant discovery that that fact really lifts the musical.

The other discovery is not so pleasant. You remember Linda Blair’s raspy, devil-laden voice in The Exorcist. It compares favorably to Pierce Brosnan’s singing voice in Mamma Mia. Even Heath Ledger’s Joker has nothing on Pierce. Gosh, I figured an old James Bond, with that great, clipped British accent, could carry a tune. Well, he carries it, but you’d rather not go where he carries it to. The only positive thing worth mentioning here is that he seems earnest. Actually, he seems in pain. Earnest pain. It might be called acting in some quarters.

The whole premise here, in case you’ve been watching reruns of Mad Men, or ensconced in a batcave, is that a beautiful 20-year-old (Amanda Seyfried) is due to be married on their Greek island, the one she and her mother (Streep) have kept together with gum and duct tape for the last several years, but she isn’t sure who is her father. So, after finding her mother’s diary, she picks three of the best options, and invites them all, unbeknownst to her mother. Songs ensue.

The casting is just short of brilliant, Streep and Brosnan aside. Julie Walters has developed into a fine character actress, and is terribly funny here. I was wondering why Christine Baranski’s talents were being wasted here when she breaks into a show-stopping role-reversal of a song called “Does Your Mother Know,” and really works the beach sand. Seyfried is bright, new face and has a wonderful voice. And the other two male suitors, Colin Firth and Stellar Skarsgard, have some surprises in store for us.

This is a summer delight: great songs, familiar adaptations of them (the male ABBA members helped with the music), and beautiful people on a beautiful island.

Thumb’s up.

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At 9:31 AM, Blogger Sheryl said...

I got the songs running through my head just reading your post! I just went to see it and agree that it was a lot of fun. I loved Meryl Streep and couldn't figure out why they didn't dub in someone else's singing voice for Pierce B.

My one small peeve is that they fully orchestrated every song. I would have liked to have seen Colin Firth (one of my favorites) sing his whole song alone on the guitar instead of the orchestra and unseen choir chiming in.

At 11:49 AM, Blogger Melinda said...

Oh I just LOVE this film! I watched it several times and even have it on my PC - such a fun and uplifting movie...fantastic fun, and of course Meryl Streep is the icing on the cake. Agree with you on this one for sure!


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