Directed by: Phyllida Lloyd
Premise: An adaptation of the stage musical. Sophie (Amanda Seyfried), a bride-to-be living on a Greek island with her single mother (Meryl Streep), discovers that she has three possible fathers. Wanting one of them to give her away at the wedding, she secretly invites all three of them to the ceremony. The musical is set to the tunes of ABBA.
What Works: Amanda Seyfried does a nice job and she is the only member of the cast who can sing as well as act. But the real attraction of Mamma Mia is its fun if disastrous nature. The film is enjoyable for those who liked the stage production and it has that same appeal. This film is so bad that it’s good, at least for the right audience. The flat singing, the awkward dancing, and the clumsy camera angles are actually endearing because they are obviously self conscious. This is not The Phantom of the Opera (frankly, it’s not even The Rocky Horror Picture Show) but it’s not trying to be either and the film’s loose attitude toward all things, most of all itself, saves it. Mamma Mia! is an excuse to be indulgent and even a little decadent for a couple of hours and the film’s intended audience will love the film for it.
What Doesn’t: Mamma Mia! is not a very good film. There is really nothing about it as a piece of cinema that makes it recommendable. Aside from Amanda Seyfried no one in the film can sing and most of the tunes sound like people performing at a karaoke bar after a few rounds of drinks. On top of that, the looping of the musical performances isn’t very good and neither the choreography of the dance routines nor the cinematography of the film are noteworthy.
DVD extras: The two-disc special edition includes sing along lyrics, a deleted musical number, a commentary track, a documentary, featurettes, a music video, deleted scenes, and outtakes.
Bottom Line: For science fiction fans there is Plan 9 from Outer Space, for action-adventure fans there is Shoot ‘Em Up, for horror fans there is Friday the 13th, and now for musical fans there is Mamma Mia!, a film that’s not really good but it is fun in all of the disastrously right ways.
Episode: #221 (January 4, 2009)