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The Film

   This movie has an online cover Mamma Mia! (2008)
Directed By: Phyllida Lloyd


View Count: 1
Last Viewed:2008.12.16
Last/Last Reviewed:2008.12.16/2008.12.17

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Being as far as you can get from an Abba fan, i guess this movie wasn't targeted at me. This being said, i can put my musical tastes on the side for 90mn and appreciate a movie for what it is. This is especially the case since my wife is a BIG Abba fan, and so i was looking at least for a fun evening with a light-hearted movie. It made some $570M worldwide (an astonishing smash blockbuster by all means) so i figured i just had to put my Abba dislike away and enjoy the movie for its qualities that made it such a box office hit.

The story is pretty well known by now. Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) is a beautiful 20 year old girl who is just about to get married. Her mother (Meryl Streep) is a free loving hippie who never married, and to this day still doesn't know who may be Sophie's father. One day, after Sophie finds her mother's diary, she finds three names of three men who were with her on tat faithful summer when she was conceived: Sam (Pierce Brosnan), Harry (Colin Firth) and Bill (Stellan Skarsgard). She decides to invite all three of them to her wedding in hopes that her actual father will be found out.

The story is cheesy, and the characters and premises unbelievable. The biggest fault of this movie is not the music (which i don't particularly like), but simply how this movie was put together musically. I understand the attraction of getting big names for the cast, but i am sorry to say that all the leads are simply terrible at singing and dancing. I couldn't believe my ears when Meryl Streep or Pierce Brosnan for example opened their mouths. Their voices were flat, with several bad notes and register issues. It was just plain terrible. The acting was also completely woodden and unconvincing. Itwas painful to listen to, which is perhaps the biggest mistake for a musical. Songs that i didn't particularly like in the first place were rendered inaudible in this film. I was actually cringing. And the dancing was equally painful, with musical numbers that were uninventive to start with, painfully edited, and with continuity errors galore. This is the second capital sin of a musical. Dance numbers are about flows, and camera positioning, and editing. Check out West Side Story (1961), Singin' In The Rain (1952) or Blues Brothers, The (1980) to see how musical numbers should be composed.

On the plus side, the art direction was very nice and the views of this villa in Greece really made me want to pack up and go there. It's simply gorgeous. The movie actually looks pretty good visually. I also liked how the Abba songs were woven together in a narrative. The songs were used as is, with the original lyrics, and a few of them were such a perfect match for the story line. there was some good writing insights in here amidst all the blunders. the direction is overall competent technically, but for some reason, it feels like the actors were completely ignored, which is as i wrote above a huge issue in this film.

The net result is that i felt so disconnected from this movie i simply don't get it. This is the 49th highest grossing movie of all time!!! I hated it and can't remember seeing such a bad film in a long time. I mean a film with an internationally reknowned cast, a large budget, and a pedigree from a very successful musical on broadway (i have seen my share of bad low budget films this year). And my wife, a big Abba fan, hated it too. So what happened? I am not sure. I can't explain it. This film is awful.

- Laurent Hasson