Mamma Mia! I haven’t had the pleasure of seeing this musical on stage yet and have always wanted to. I know it’s still playing around the country in live theaters. When my sister said let’s watch the movie, I said yes! The music is all ABBA, a great Swedish group from the 1970’s. It stars Meryl Streep as Donna, the woman who had trysts with three different men one summer resulting in daughter Sophie (Amanda Seyfried). In the film Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth and Stellan Skarsgard play her past loves. The film is rated PG-13 for some sex-related comments.
Sophie wants to know who her father is and after finding an old diary of her mother’s, sends letters inviting each of the suspects to her wedding, signing the letters as from Donna.
This makes for good comedy. Also in attendance are Sophie’s two best friends, and Donna’s BFFs as well. This is a high-energy film, not in the way of car chases and crash scenes, but in dancing and lots of movement. I found myself thinking about how every movement is exaggerated on stage in a musical. In the theater, this is vital as the actors are projecting to a large audience, some of whom are not going to be able to see them that well. In the film, it’s just annoying. Subtlety plays well in a film, probably because facial expressions can be seen clearly and so exaggeration is not necessary.
On the one hand, I enjoyed the setting, it being Greece, the blue ocean, the sun, the sand, lots of opportunity for water sports, swimsuits and fun. But I found myself thinking I’d rather see this performed on stage. The most recent live performance I attended was Legally Blonde: The Musical. The film Legally Blonde (2001) is one of my favorites, and so when I heard this was a production at the Albuquerque Little Theater, I jumped on it. Two of my friends accompanied me, and we had a fantastic time. The important thing I found through attending that show, and now reflecting on Mamma Mia! The Movie is that a musical is meant to be on stage, and not shown as a movie. Legally Blonde: The Musical was created in 2007, after the non-musical film had endeared Elle Woods to us all. Unlike Mamma Mia! which was I assume filmed directly as how it would progress on stage.
I recommend you see the musical Mamma Mia! as live theater. I don’t recommend this movie. Maybe I’d feel differently about it if I had already seen the live production, but I think it would have played better if the film had just dropped the music altogether and become a comedy.
I recommend another film featuring ABBA’s music, Muriel’s Wedding. It stars Toni Collette and Rachel Griffiths. And a more recent film I have reviewed on this blog is Love Is All You Need. Also starring Pierce Brosnan, it has a wedding theme, and takes place on the beautiful coast of Italy.