Tag Archives: Phyllida Lloyd

Mamma Mia! (2008) Review

Time: 109 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1] Contains sexual references
Cast:
Meryl Streep as Donna Sheridan
Amanda Seyfried as Sophie Sheridan
Pierce Brosnan as Sam Carmichael
Colin Firth as Harry Bright
Stellan Skarsgård as Bill Anderson
Dominic Cooper as Sky
Julie Walters as Rosie Mulligan
Christine Baranski as Tanya Chesham-Leigh
Director: Phyllida Lloyd

Donna (Meryl Streep), an independent hotelier in the Greek islands, is preparing for her daughter’s (Amanda Seyfried) wedding with the help of two old friends. Meanwhile Sophie, the spirited bride, has a plan. She secretly invites three men from her mother’s past in hope of meeting her real father and having him escort her down the aisle on her big day.

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Mamma Mia was a movie I heard a lot about every since it’s release in 2008. Although I watched some bits of the movie, I hadn’t ever gotten around to watching it in it’s entirety. With the sequel coming soon, I decided to watch the original movie to see how I felt about it… and I’m not entirely sure how I felt about it. It’s not really that good of a movie, but it’s so campy and over the top that I was entertained by it.

Now I think I should mention I’m not familiar with the musical of the same name (although I’m familiar with a lot of the ABBA songs). There is a plot to Mamma Mia but honestly it feels really quite small, and the only reason it is like an hour and 50 minutes long is because of the songs shoved in. It’s like you get 5 to 10 minutes of the story and then it cuts to another ABBA song. The vast majority of the time, there was no reason for the songs used. Sometimes it has nothing to do with anything, and by removing certain song segments, it wouldn’t feel like any part of the movie was missing. I thought that Moulin Rouge used way too many songs for no reason, but Mamma Mia takes it to a completely different level. It does its fair share of songs that worked in certain moments to be fair, and most of the song segments were entertaining enough. It’s just that when they come out of nowhere they can feel really jarring. Outside of the songs, the reason I was somewhat entertained by the movie was how bizarre it was. A lot of the time I didn’t know what was going on, whether that be the absurdity of some of the singing segments, the sudden song segments that come out of nowhere for no reason, some of the bad singing, some of the insane decisions made by some characters, it felt very strange to me. There was a lot of camp to it as well. I think a lot of the intentional humour didn’t really land with me, and those moments where it did, it’s because of how bizarre the concept was. I think the best way to enjoy Mamma Mia is that if you have an issue with something, try to just go with it. That’s not that strong of a compliment but that’s what I did, and I did have a fun time with it. It doesn’t have a particularly strong plot, characters or anything like that, but it was entertaining, it was an entertaining movie.

This movie has a big cast with Meryl Streep, Amanda Seyfried, Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth, Stellan Skarsgard, Julie Walters and others. While they aren’t by any means giving performances that would rank among the best in their careers, they all look like they are having the time of their lives. They don’t seem to be taking it too seriously as well, they sort of know what kind of movie they are in. When it comes to singing, the women fare much better than the men. Pierce Brosnan was infamous in this movie for sounding atrocious, and yes, his singing does in fact sound like a wounded dog. To be fair, props to him, Firth and Skarsgard for at least trying to sing, and Brosnan’s singing was one of the highlights of the film (just not in the way he intended), I’m lowkey hoping it makes a return for the second film. Meryl Streep’s singing wasn’t great (her singing would improve in Into the Woods) but it was actually pretty decent here. In fact most of the singing was fine enough, I don’t really have much to comment about them.

A lot of the musical segments are actually pretty well directed, no matter how crazy it gets a lot of the time. It’s also a pretty good looking movie as well, though most of that is because of the location of the movie, which takes place in the Greek Islands. Also I really like ABBA so I enjoyed the musical segments, and most of the singing was okay enough so I could get into it. Direction-wise, it’s a competently made movie.

I’m still not sure what to say about Mamma Mia. It just seems like a bunch of famous actors and actresses got together to do drunk ABBA karaoke. I can’t say that I was bored. It’s so batshit insane and it does have some entertaining moments (whether it is genuine or just how bizarre everything is). Even though its not good, I had some fun with it (and it feels like everyone involved had fun with it), and not in a ‘so bad it’s good way’. So I guess I might be able to call it okay, I think. If you’re going to watch it for the first time, just know that you can’t take any of it seriously. I’m not expecting much from the sequel, I’m not sure why Mamma Mia is even getting a sequel (especially 10 years after the original) but if it’s at least as half as batshit insane as the first movie, it might be entertaining at the very least.