Friday, July 18, 2008

Review: Mamma Mia

I have a confession: I am a huge fan of ABBA. I can't help it - when I hear the opening strains of any of their cheezy pop songs, I find my feet moving and suddenly I'm singing along. Actually, I challenge anyone to listen to "Dancing Queen" or "Mamma Mia" and not find yourself smiling and singing along. So I knew that I would love the new movie musical "Mamma Mia," and I was not disappointed. I smiled and sang along (in my head) the whole way.

The story: 20-year-old Sophie is about to marry on the small Greek island on which she lives with her single mom, Donna. Sophie is desperate to meet her father, and discovers in her mother's diary that there are three candidates. She invites them to the wedding, sure she will recognize him immediately. And so they arrive: Sam the architect, Bill the globetrotting adventurer, and Harry the businessman. The story follows as Sophie tries to figure out who is her dad, and her mom tries to figure out her feelings for them.

The cast is fantastic - and they look like they are just having a ball. (Do you blame them? Spending weeks on a gorgeous Greek island singing ABBA songs - what's not to love?!) Meryl Streep and Pierce Brosnan have terrific chemistry (although he was clearly not cast for his singing voice - he's pretty weak). Christine Baranski and Julie Walters are terrific as her side kicks, and I found Colin Firth and Stellan Skarsgard charming as the other two suitors.

The real find is Amanda Seyfried as Sophie. I'm familiar with her work on "Big Love," on which she plays the conflicted daughter in a polygamous family. She is sweet, sexy, and charming in the role - this could be a real break-out star.

And of course the other star is the musical score. Yeah, there are holes in the story (Streep is way too old, and the time line seems screwy at times), but you don't have time to ponder it because here comes another ABBA tune! The songs have been well incorporated into the plot - or maybe the plot has simply been constructed around the tunes - but, whatever, it works!

A fun, infectious score - a charming, hot cast - beautiful cinematography - I can't wait to see it again!

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