The Story: On a small Greek island Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) is set to be married. Her only wish is that her father, a man she’s never met, will walk her down the aisle. With no help from her mother Donna (Meryl Streep), Sophie tracks down three possible candidates and invites the three men to the wedding, without her mother’s knowledge. Thus sparks off a musical journey as Sophie tries to see which of the men her father is, and Donna tries to get rid of them while trying to hide her feelings for one, the vibrant Sam (Pierce Brosnan).
Pros: I didn’t enjoy Mamma Mia when I first saw it, mainly because it wasn’t as good as the Broadway show. After watching it on DVD, with somewhat lowered expectations, I came to enjoy it for the campy musical that it is. The movie isn’t perfect, but it’s a loveable romantic comedy with some truly toe-tapping songs, if you’re an ABBA fan of course. With classic songs like “Dancing Queen,” “Take a Chance on Me” and the title song, “Mamma Mia,” if you’re not singing by the end of this movie then you’re made of stone. The sets on this film are nothing short of breathtaking and it’s great to see what can be accomplished on-location, as well as in studios. I spent quite a bit of time this second go-around just looking at how director Phyllida Lloyd constructed all the locations. One cannot say that actors didn’t have fun with this film. Meryl Streep, Christine Baranski and Julie Walters all have a blast as Donna and her friends, respectively. The same can be said for Pierce Brosnan, Stellan Skarsgard and Colin Firth as Sophie’s potential fathers. The stand-outs are in the young cast, mostly Amanda Seyfried, who has the acting and the best singing in the bunch. The singing in this is especially powerful in the young ingénue and Meryl Streep, her ballad “The Winner Takes It All” is a highlight of the movie.
Cons: I did mention above you need to take this film as camp and that’s because it’s incredibly hokey. The ending rendition of Waterloo proves how the director wants you to take this film, so don’t expect Shakespeare. Fans of the play should also come with lowered expectations, as I did, because this is Mamma Mia-lite with not nearly the wit and fun of the stageplay. The singing in this is the most erratic, especially in the men. Skarsgard and Firth aren’t given nearly enough singing time, same with Dominic Cooper who plays Seyfried’s fiancée. Baranski and Walters also are overshadowed by Streep. Brosnan is the weakest casting in the bunch for a musical as his voice is a notch above terrible. He can carry a tune but it’s incredibly weak and gravelly. This is especially odd since his character has quite a few big songs to sing, including a solo at the end. I continue to say that Streep is bad casting as she looks a bit too old to have a 20-year-old daughter and for some reason they reference how the men were with Donna in the seventies, but if you do the math Sophie would have to be older. This becomes more obvious when Donna doesn’t know about things like the Internet but we’re supposedly in modern day. Definitely leave your brain at the door with this one.
Features: For a single disc this movie does give something to the fans but true fans of the musical should check out the 2-disc DVD that has more featurettes. The single disc has a commentary with director Phyllida Lloyd that is informative but she comes off a bit too monotone so it is a sluggish commentary to get through. There is an added song in the deleted scenes, “The Name of the Game.” It’s an interesting addition since it’s between Seyfried and Stellan Skarsgard, who doesn’t get nearly enough song time in the film. It’s a great scene to watch them interact but the song isn’t the greatest and it would not have fit in the overall film so it’s easy to see why it was dropped, but entertaining for the fans. There is also a sing-along function that is essentially subtitles on the musical numbers for you to sing along. I couldn’t use this feature to its full extent since I watched the film alone but really it’s just subtitles you don’t have to turn on and off.
Overall: I enjoyed Mamma Mia the second time around then the first. The DVD is definitely for the casual fan and if you’re a hardcore fan of the play or