Mamma Mia! is a movie musical directed by Phyllida Lloyd and it’s based on the Mamma Mia! Musical written by Catherine Johnson who also wrote this movie as well. This movie’s plot revolves around Sophie who is about to get married but she invites three men. One of those three men is her father. Now you have a movie. This movie has quite the cast, including Amanda Seyfried, Meryl Streep, Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth, Stellan Skarsgård, Dominic Cooper, Julia Walters and Christine Baranski.
This isn’t your typical musical. This is what is called a ‘jukebox musical’ which means that none of it’s songs are original. It’s all covers from already existing songs. Another example of this type of musical is Moulin Rouge which only had one original song. In this case, Mamma Mia! only consists of ABBA songs. I’ve always liked their music but this movie made me obsessed! I’m even listening to their music while writing this review! What is amazing however is how the songs actually are placed in the context of the movie, they’re not there just for the sake of being there.
This movie reminded me a lot of Moulin Rouge, not only because of they’re both jukebox musicals but instead because I have a love/hate feeling towards both of them. Both have great music, great performances and stunning visuals but they both have one bizarre aspect which is really bad. Moulin Rouge was a bit too weird, the characters were over the top, that took me out of it. Mamma Mia! on the other hand had decent characters but the plot is just a big fiasco. However I did say both have stunning visuals, the location is gorgeous! It looks fake, that’s how good it looks. I love how this movie uses the colour blue so inventively.
The movie feels like it was supposed to be longer than intended, there are certain events that literally have no consequences. For example (MINOR SPOILER) Sophie doesn’t tell her fiance about the three father thing and he gets angry. This literally happens a few hours before the wedding. They never talk again before the wedding. The wedding occurs and it’s like nothing happened. They both smile at each other and go through with it. I almost thought I skipped a scenes or two.
Meryl Streep is great as Donna. She is believable as a retired singer. I love how she isn’t a walking cliche, she adds depth to Donna. Also she definitely knows how to handle a huge number like Dancing Queen. She is the highlight of the movie. Amanda Seyfried is a great actress but I don’t really understand Sophie’s character or way of thinking. I believe she is supposed to be the main character but the only things she does is set events in motion. Basically if she wasn’t there the movie wouldn’t happen but that’s it. She is just this hopeful, do now think later kind of character. The problem with this movie is that there can’t be two protagonists. The movie has so much to handle and the screen-time is divided in three, Meryl, Amanda and secondary characters. Meryl steals the movie from Amanda and it’s neither of their faults, it’s whoever wrote Sophie’s character.
Not to spoil anything but my favourite part of the movie is the credits and not because the movie was over but because the scene playing with the credits. It’s pure fun, it put a smile on my face despite not loving the movie all that much. I don’t hate this movie, I see it more as a guilty pleasure which is not necessarily a bad thing. I liked Baranski as Meryl’s best friend in the movie. However I absolutely hated Walters’s character. She is literally only there to provide the “laughs” which come off as cringy and unfunny.
Now I LOVE musicals, some people love action, sci-fi or horror but they ignore musicals. As a cinephile I try to submerse myself in every genre there is. I recently just got into horror and I love it. I’ve always loved the typical genres like action, comedy and sci-fi. That being said, this movie is not for everyone, which is another thing this movie has in common with Moulin Rouge! The worse part is not because it’s a musical but because of it’s actual flaws. Moulin Rouge was criticized for being over the top. This movie doesn’t care about being a good movie, it just wants you too laugh and sing along and it does that.
However as a film it fails, the writing is sloppy, the characters for the most part are two-dimensional and annoying. This movie does succeed as a musical, the songs fit very well, it looks amazing, the performances are good, Streep is amazing. So when watching a movie like this keep in mind that it’s a cheesy, weird musical that people get nostalgic over because of ABBA.