‘Mamma Mia!’ force-feeds fun

By |2018-01-15T19:03:57-05:00December 18th, 2008|Entertainment|

Thank goodness for Meryl Streep. Pierce Brosnan, not so much. Dude might’ve killed with his James Bond beater-upper image, but when it comes to holding a note – or, heck, sounding better than a dying cat – someone needs to rescue him. And parts of this musical.
In that case, Streep is superwoman, carrying the campy, messier-than-a-kid’s-room “Mamma Mia!” like a pack-mule. ABBA devotees will scarf this down – every Red Bull-ed moment of it. But it’s all so loosey-goosey, bouncing off stone walls and ensuring the fun-factor rarely wanes. And sometimes it’s a sure-fire hoot, like seeing Streep dance through a Greek village crooning the title’s namesake song. But “Mamma Mia!” is, unfortunately, a one-note story – and a definite guilty pleasure – driven by a need to make us feel like a kid on Christmas.
In case you still care, here’s the deal: Streep plays Donna Sheridan, whose daughter Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) is about to get hitched to cutie Sky (Dominic Cooper). Sophie, unbeknownst to her mother, invites three potential daddies to the wedding: Bill Anderson (Stellan Skarsgard), Sam Carmichael (Pierce Brosnan) and Harry Bright (Colin Firth). Donna’s thrown into a tizzy when they arrive, and leans on her always-goofy gal pals, Rosie (Julie Walters) and Tanya (Christine Baranski). Each time the trifecta bands, they’re screwing around, jumping on beds, flirting with men half their age, or turning the camp way up on “Dancing Queen.”
It might be a shameful blast – and it definitely lives up to its title’s exclamation point: You’ll! Have! Fun! Or! Else! And every time Streep swoops in, which – phew! – is often, she radiates the picture; hitting almost every note, doing mid-air splits, and letting her smile light up the screen. Even when it doesn’t, like on the melancholy mother-daughter number “Slipping Through My Fingers” or the do-it-all actress’ solo showstopper “The Winner Takes it All,” we’re sold.
She can only do so much, though, and with some karaoke-quality singing, clunky choreography and ho-hum directing by Phyllida Lloyd, “Mamma Mia!” is “High School Musical” for grown-ups. And, oddly enough, I’d watch it again.
Same goes for some of the extras on the two-disc special edition. Skip the breezy bloopers, but check out the deleted scenes just for the brief shot of Cooper’s perky bum and “A Look Inside ‘Mamma Mia!'” – an ode to ABBA, basically. Amanda Seyfried also takes us behind-the-scenes – or something like that, since all she does, really, is get her hair did and talk about being bloated. But for a few minutes it’s almost as much fun as the film. And without Pierce Brosnan. C+


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The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea
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About the Author:

Chris Azzopardi
As editor of Q Syndicate, the international LGBTQ wire service, Chris Azzopardi has interviewed a multitude of superstars, including Cher, Meryl Streep, Mariah Carey and Beyoncé. His work has also appeared in The New York Times, GQ, Vanity Fair and Billboard. Reach him via Twitter @chrisazzopardi.