Mamma Mia! (2008)

Take a trip down the aisle you'll never forget

http://www.mammamiamovie.com

An independent, single mother who owns a small hotel on a Greek island is about to marry off the spirited young daughter she's raised alone. But, the daughter has secretly invited three of her mother's ex-lovers in the hopes of finding her biological father.

To Mamma Mia! then, a movie easily slipping in past Coyote Ugly as the second-worst film I've ever seen (behind The Rocky Horror Picture Show). My eyes. I can't unsee it.
From what I could gather (and that's not because the plot is difficult - Christ, no - or because I wasn't really paying attention, it's because the film seemed to be not sinking in, not digesting in my brain. I think my brain was trying to reject it, like a foreign object) - an airy-fairy middle-aged bohemian tart (Meryl Streep, The Iron Lady) prances and dances around her primary-coloured villa on an unspecified Greek (I think) island. Her equally airy-fairy "Barbie Princess" daughter (Amanda Seyfried, Les Misérables) prances and dances around with her. That seems to be what they do. I mean, for a living, like. They're not on holiday. This is the summation of their lives. Idyllic and unrealistic prancery and dancery, around a villa apparently coloured in by over-enthusiastic first-graders. They have two friends each who escort them everywhere - even to the sh!tter perhaps, I dunno - who exist exclusively to orbit like satellites around this main pair. In fact, everybody in this movie exist purely to serve the life stories of Streep and Seyfried. It's that sort of film, where everybody on-screen is wondering, "Oh! Will Streep eat a tangerine next? Or a satsuma? Will Seyfried brush her hair with a soft brush, or a slightly-softer-than-that brush? Oh, the agony!" Anyway, the daughter's getting wed - the next day, I think - to some impossibly perfect young lad (to suit her impossibly perfect everything else), but, oh noes! She never knew who her dad was, because her mum was a dirty old stropper back in the eighties, and they've both been too busy prancing and dancing for two straight decades to even have brought it up, ever! So, who will give her away tomorrow? Oh noes!
Well she prances and dances her way to her mum's secret diary (with her two conjoined mates, obvs) and, equally "obvs", it's all in there. Ta-daa! Except, there are three possible "daddies" and of course, they are Colin Firth (The King's Speech), Pierce Brosnan (Goldeneye) and Stellan Skarsgård (Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest). So she invites all three to the wedding under the pretense of being her own mum and of course all three drop whatever they've been doing for twenty years and turbo their way, immediately, to this island, all arriving together, on the same boat, which also belongs to one of them. Hurrah. From there, much "hilarity" ensues as the airy-fairy daughter tries to suss which one's her dad while her airy-fairy tart mother spends the rest of the film - with HER conjoined mates, obvs - wondering whether to let Brosnan "tap dat ass" one more time.
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SPOILER ALERT (LIKE ANYONE GIVES A DRY, UNYIELDING BUMPLOP): They don't find out who the daddy is: the three pinhead blokes all agree that they now already love this silly airy-fairy daughter so much that they agree to be one-thirds daddy each. Then, out of the clear ****ing sky, the airy-fairy daughter tells her groom at the altar that the wedding's off, and they should just prance and dance around the world instead. Fantastic! And not to waste a wedding full of perfect ****ing strangers anyway, but Brosnan decides to marry Streep while they're there. Well of course. And Skarsgård hooks up with Julie "Isn't she dead yet?" Walters - one of Streep's conjoined mates - and Firth, who as it happens was a left-footer all along who was just experimenting with Streep back in the day, cops off with a waiter in traditional Greek island fashion. Hurrah for everything! Let's have another ABBA song, eh?
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Oh, the ABBA songs. I mean, there are musicals. Then, there are musical musicals. And then, way past any of that, there is Mamma Mia!. A quick Wiki-up shows me that, excluding reprises and a deleted scene, there are twenty songs performed in Mamma Mia!. So, say, four minutes per song, that's eighty minutes. Wiki (again) tells me that the film is 109 minutes in length, so let's knock off ten minutes-worth of credits, and you're looking at eighty minutes of singing in a 99 minute film. That sounds about right. A 19-minute story - a p!ss-poor one, at that - stretched over an hour-and-a-half by the soothing tunes of Agnetha, Benny, Bjorn and Anni-Frid. Looking at those numbers I'm now somewhat impressed that whilst watching this pile of pooey bum-leavings I didn't stand up, lose the plot, smash my house to rubble and wander off to live in the woods as a sasquatch. It was ceaseless. An ABBA song, three lines of dialogue (if you were lucky, which wasn't often), another ABBA song. Over and over. And... well, the songs were all sung in-camera by the actors. And whilst I wouldn't call any of them good singers, they could all at least hold a note (only just in Streep's case, but she managed to stumble over that line).
All except Pierce Brosnan.
Oh, Pierce. Pierce! Why didn't someone tell him? Did no one care enough? Is he THAT unlikeable? Why couldn't he hear it himself? I don't want to come across as either xenophobic or stereotypical when I suggest that he sounded like a drunken Irishman preparing to fight, but that IS what he sounded like. And who knows, maybe that's what was really happening with him at that time. He IS an Irishman, perhaps he needed to get good and liquored up before the singing - I know I would - and perhaps he was wondering whether or not to attack the first person on the set who dared laugh. Sounds perfectly plausible.
Anyway, the whole thing's a travesty, top-to-toe. Most closely resembled one of those straight-to-video Barbie movies, beloved of six-year-old girls and nobody else on the entire planet. If you ever have an opportunity to see it, DO NOT take that opportunity. SPURN that opportunity. Spurn as though your very life depended on it. That's all the advice I can give. Don't do what I did, and watch Mamma Mia!. Only madness lies that way.

Littlestar, Playtone, Internationale Filmproduktion Richter by Phyllida Lloyd, Catherine Johnson.
Stars: Meryl Streep, Pierce Brosnan, Amanda Seyfried, Stellan Skarsgård.

Genres: Comedy, Musical, Romance

Keywords: single parent parent child relationship greece musical single based on play or musical based on song, poem or rhyme hotel manager greek island duringcreditsstinger woman director mother daughter relationship abba

07/03/2008

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