Donna (Meryl Streep) runs a tiny B&B on a small Greek island with her 20 year old daughter Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) - the island on which she had a succession of three romantic encounters 20 years earlier, none of which ended up with marriage, but one of which ended up with Sophie. When Sophie finds her mum's tell-all diary of those days, she finds the details of three men: Sam Carmichael (Pierce Brosnan), Harry Bright (Colin Firth) and Bill (Stellan Skarsgard). Desperate to find out which is her father, she fakes invitations from her mother to her looming island wedding to Sky (Dominic Cooper). When the three men arrive, strangers to each other and unaware of Sophie's existence, the dynamics of the relationships are radically changed - as are many lives.
Review by Louise Keller:
This joyous frolic propelled and inspired by the timeless music of ABBA is a bit like Grease for the older set, with Meryl Streep and Pierce Brosnan playing the leading roles. Based on the hit stage show Mamma Mia, it's an ambitious musical about secrets, love, friendship and is great escapism for all ages. Like Julie Taynor's Across the Universe, which put the Beatles' songs into a narrative context, the same is done for these great tunes, to which you can tap your toes or bop in your seat to your heart's content. Set on drop dead gorgeous locations in the Greek Islands, the film takes flight from a pulse of music, compelling performances and an uplifting story that deals with issues of the heart all wrapped up with a ribbon of fantasy.
The characters are structured in sets of threes. There is Amanda Seyfried's bride-to-be Sophie (and her two friends), Streep's Donna and her two friends Tanya and Rosie (Christine Baranski and Julie Walters) who mirror the younger trio. And the three possible fathers (Brosnan, Colin Firth and Stellan Skarsgård). Donna is a wonderful mixture of a doting mother whose outer shell conceals the wild, carefree girl she was 20 years ago, and Streep gives is her all - musically and emotionally. Baranski is a real scene stealer as the plastic-surgery enhanced Tanya who has an eye for younger men (and the ability to keep the upper hand). The routine on the beach with the ultra sexy Pepper (Philip Michael) is a riot. I liked the scene when Donna, Tanya and Rosie don their platform shoes, false lashes, sequins and best performance mode, when they get it on with Super Trouper.
The three men are as complex and diverse in personality as Donna herself, with Firth suitably staid (he thinks he is spontaneous) and Skarsgård earthy and fun. Brosnan is earnest as idealist Sam, especially in the singing stakes, but teams well with Streep. Seyfried however, is a delight, with a lovely strong voice to boot. The songs include Mamma Mia, Lay All Your Love On Me, The Winner Takes It All, Chiquitita, Dancing Queen and a great rendition of Money Money Money. Mamma Mia is as fresh as the water of Aphrodite's fountain, satisfying our thirst for romance, frivolity and music ABBA style.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Mamma Mia! is a video clip & party with some dramatic ballast, floating on the Abba song encyclopaedia, with songs fitted in to take the emotional shape as required by the story at any given time. Made with a lovely sense of abandon, the film is irresistibly entertaining and hedonistic without losing sense of caring and sharing.
Meryl Streep takes centre stage with a bravura performance without taking herself at all seriously, and there is plenty of room on this stage for a sizeable ensemble cast of acclaimed thespians who turn out to be more than acceptable singers.
Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth and Stellan Skarsgard make a veritable all-sorts as the men who could each be the father of the bride, Amanda Seyfried is vulnerable and feisty as called for in the central role of Sophie, the daughter and bride, while Christine Baranski and Julie Walters have a romp of a time as free spirits with a wicked sense of fun.
The script seems casual but is in fact precisely plotted to ensure the story gets told in the simplest way while the music propels the relationships.
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MAMMA MIA! (PG)
CAST: Meryl Streep, Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth, Stellan Skarsgard, Julie Walters, Dominic Cooper, Amanda Seyfried, Christine Baranski
PRODUCER: Benny Andersson, Judy Craymer, Gary Goetzman, Tom Hanks, Björn Ulvaeus, Rita Wilson
DIRECTOR: Phyllida Lloyd
SCRIPT: Catherine Johnson
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Haris Zambarloukos
EDITOR: Lesley Walker
MUSIC: Benny Anderson, Stig Anderson, Bjorn Ulvaeus
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Maria Djurkovic
RUNNING TIME: 103 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Universal
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: July 10, 2008