Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Mamma Mia (2008)

First let me get out of the way that I happen to be an ABBA fan. Okay I said it. I know not many people say that out loud, but for this review I have to say it and be done with it. For those not in the know ABBA was a Swedish band that had many hits during the 70's and early 80's. ABBA gained immense international popularity employing catchy song hooks, simple lyrics, and a Wall of Sound achieved by overdubbing the female singers' voices in multiple harmonies.

Now that I've gotten that out of the way I have to say that the film Mamma Mia is a film that uses ABBA's songs to tell the story of a young girl who invites three men to her wedding in the hopes in finding out which one is her father. Throughout the film there is singing and dancing as mother (Meryl Streep), and daughter (Amanda Seyfried) confront each others history. Some of the songs of ABBA have been rewritten to fit the story. Originally a Broadway play and a successful one at that the film follows close to form the play. But the film does lack the plays energy. I have talked with many people who have seen the play and all loved it. The play Mamma Mia is a play that was/is interactive. In other words the audience gets to interact with the actors and the songs in the play. In the film that interactivity is gone, and that's what hurts the film. I do believe the distribution company (Universal) re-opened the film a few months later with lyrics on the screen for the audience to sing-a-long. On the DVD you can watch it with lyrics or without, which is a nice feature.

Meryl Streep does a good job here, and it looks as though she is having some fun in the part of Donna, and the rest of the cast do a great job. Who would think that Pierce Brosnan is such a gifted singer also. The film is a jubilant celebration of the mother/daughter relationship and the love between good friends. No matter how corny and cheesy some may find Abba, it is hard to resist the films many charms. Even at the end of the film their are performances by the key actors as they sing two ABBA songs, and they look like their having a ball, and why not. That's what Mamma Mia is all about "having a good time".

Is it a film worth seeing? If you like musicals I would think this film is for you. For mom's and their daughters I'm sure it strikes a cord, and for us ABBA fans there is a sense of nostalgia when listening to the songs. The film also has a message of sorts and it's not a bad one to espouse to that knowing yourself doesn't come from knowing your past, but who and how you lived your life is more important.

Either your a fan or not. That's how it breaks down in the end. Either you'll love it or you'll see it as a useless feel good film that Hollywood manages to pump out once in awhile. As for me the songs do it for me, and I do like the performers in it, so I liked it. But be warned after viewing the film you'll be humming the lyrics to the songs, and depending on your viewpoint that's either a good thing or a really evil thing. You decide.

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