Friday, July 18, 2008
A classic movie musical put out in the 21st century, with song and dance numbers, whatever will they think of next? A bit skeptical of something that is based on a Broadway play that was itself inspired by the music of ABBA? The 1970's-era world-wide supergroup ABBA? So was I. It's not that back in my teen years that I didn't find some of their dance, disco, and early emo ditties catchy, the Swedes put out some timeless tunes for sure. But an entire story based on those tunes, how could that work? Well, it does, because 'Mamma Mia !' is simply outstanding. The story line basically follows the upcoming wedding of a young girl named Sophie, played by dazzling young American actress Amanda Seyfried. As her wedding approaches, there is just one thing missing for Sophie, her father. For years she has been raised alone by her mother, fantastically played in a starring turn by the incomparable Meryl Streep, whose character Donna simply doesn't know which of three men are Sophie's dear-old dad. Seems that Donna had spent a randy summer a couple decades earlier 'befriending' three guys in a matter of weeks. For years now, she has told her daughter Sophie that her father had run off before she was born, but Sophie finds mom's diary from that period, and finds the truth about the three men, along with enough distinctive information on each to track them down. Sophie invites each man to the wedding, luring them by pretending to be Donna wanting them back. All three show up, and Sophie begins her quest to find out which is her real dad. The movie is poignant at times, particularly in a scene where Streep helps Seyfried prepare for the wedding ceremony. This is a real mother-daughter, chick flic tearjerker moment for the ladies. There are plenty of comedic turns as well, especially by the character Tanya as played by veteran actress Christine Baranski who is tremendous in the 'cougar' role perfected by Sex & the City's Samantha character. The film is supported by a strong cast who are a bit underused in this plot, including Euro-actors Colin Firth, Stellan Skarsgard, and Julie Walters (all of whom you will know when you see their faces.) Oh, and Pierce Brosnan can sing. He won't win any awards, mind you, but he can carry a tune. While Momma Mia! is a definite chick-flic, I have no shame in admitting that I enjoyed it. And the music, especially as presented here, is infectious. Some of the credit for pulling this all together has to go to the Executive Producers, the great Tom Hanks and his wife Rita Wilson. If you're a gal, go with some friends. If you're a mom of a daughter entering young womanhood, go together. If you're a guy, take your woman. But go, no matter who you are, and feel good at the movies for once. Mama Mia! is a hit not to be missed.