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+
Lost: The Complete Fourth Season
Open-mouth moments aplenty, network TV’s best now-airing show (and, for some, a major migraine) gets its groove back with flash-forwards, twists, grit, poignancy – and the more official outing of a minor character. Get lost (hehe) in the enthralling extras, including behind-the-scenes peeks, a look at the new island faces and, best, a feature on the survivors – The Oceanic Six (by the way, nice tip-off on the box art, ABC/Buena Vista). Season five – premiering Jan. 21! – can’t come soon enough.
The Dark Knight
Batman, who? This Gotham City chapter – a box-office record breaker – was all about the Joker, the late Heath Ledger’s twisted turn as one of the creepiest dudes to piss off the superhero. And, damn, it’s good. Too bad the special features – the making of the music and IMAX scenes – on this two-discer do it little justice. Pooey.
The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea
Just yesterday (quite literally) I watched Ariel marry Prince Eric. Now they have a kid? Boy, do I feel old. With much of the same vocal talent, and Ursula’s slenderer sister to bring on the bad, Mama Mermaid must protect her budding teen in this re-released DVD (which includes some all-new kiddie trivia games). You won’t find Nemo – but you’ll find a silly gay time.