Mamma Mia!


Directed by: Phyllida Lloyd
Written by:Catherine Johnson
Starring: Meryl Streep, Amanda Seyfried, Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth, Stellan Skarsgard, Julie Walters, Christine Baranski, Dominic Cooper
Released: July 10, 2008
Grade: A-

For her entire life, Sophie (Seyfried) has been raised by her mother, Donna (Streep), on a picturesque Greek island.  Donna has run a small resort on the island for close to 20 years and Sophie has always been there to help out.  The time has come though for Sophie to leave the nest.  She has met the man of her dreams (Cooper) and they are to be married.  A beautiful wedding has been planned.

Sophie has felt however that a part of her life has been missing.  She has never met her father and doesn’t even know who he is.  Her mother has kept the story a close secret.  Sophie would have loved for her dad to be able to walk her down the aisle at the wedding ceremony.

Sophie wants the truth and has come up with a plan.  After finding one of her mother’s old diaries, she learns that Donna was sleeping with three different men around the time that she conceived.  Without her mother’s knowledge, Sophie has tracked down these guys and sent them wedding invitations.  They are Sam Carmichael (Brosnan), Harry Bright (Firth) and Bill Austin (Skasgard).  Believe it or not, they have all accepted the invitation!  Sophie’s hoping that when they show up, she’ll be able to find out who her father is.

Ah, but it won’t be that easy.  The arrival of these three gentlemen sends the wedding preparations into complete chaos.  No one seems to know what is going on.  Old secrets will be revealed and new secrets will be created.  It’s a well-written story and I’m not going to reveal the twists for those yet to see it.

This film is based on the musical of the same name.  Mamma Mia! debuted on London’s West End in 1999 and became a smash-hit.  It has been performed in many countries including here in Australia.  Between 2001 and 2005, it was seen in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide.  I’ve never seen the live musical myself but I’ve been told by many people that it was fantastic.

Now I see why.  This cinematic adaptation is a blast.  I thought it started out a little slowly but I quickly warmed to the silly story, the terrific performances and the memorable ABBA songs.  I’ve never really been an ABBA fan but now I have a few of their songs firmly implanted in my brain.  I just can’t get them out of my head!

The director of the film is Phyllida Lloyd and the writer is Catherine Johnson.  These two women were responsible for the creation of the original musical in the late 1990s.  It’s great to see that they were given the opportunity to make the movie version.  Lloyd described it as “the most challenging project of my career”.  For those familiar with the musical, there are a few changes.  Small alterations have been made to the order of songs, the dialogue and the locations.  I think the film is a little disjointed at times (jumping from character to character) but for the most part, Lloyd and Johnson have done a superb job.  The set and costume designers also deserve praise.

Most of the cast are fantastic.  Meryl Streep had been a long-time fan of the musical and had always wanted to play Donna if it was turned into a movie.  Streep got her wish and she’s wonderful.  Also a standout was Christine Baranski (Chicago) who plays Tanya, one of Donna’s best friends.  The scene where she sings “Does Your Mother Know” on the beach is one of the film’s high points.

Do I like this film?  I do, I do, I do, I do, I do.