Mamma Mia!

The film version of Mamma Mia!” opens this weekend, and the musical version continues to hum along at Mandalay Bay.

I remember reading years ago that when John Woo was making Mission: Impossible II, he conceived the action scenes first and then had the screenwriter write his script around those sequences. It showed. The narrative had to strain to explain why there was suddenly a motorcycle chase and where all these doves were coming from, and sometimes it didn’t even bother.

The Details

Mamma Mia!
Meryl Streep, Pierce Brosnan, Amanda Seyfried, Colin Firth, Stellan Skarsgard
Directed by Phyllida Lloyd
Rated PG-13
Opens Friday July 18th
Find Movie Showtimes
Beyond the Weekly
Local cast likes 'Mamma Mia' film(Las Vegas Sun, 7/18/08)
Video: 'Mamma Mia''s Vegas cast weighs in on the new movie (Las Vegas Sun, 7/18/08)
Mamma Mia!
Mamma Mia! on IMDb
Mamma Mia! on Rotten Tomatoes
Mamma Mia! on Broadway

The narrative for Mamma Mia! has the same problem. Because the story has to work around pre-existing songs from the ABBA catalogue, you may find yourself wondering why the story goes off on a lengthy tangent to show us a minor character fending off a suitor. The reason: There was a song for that. Later, a woman gets into a fight with her fiancé. It seems like we should see a scene that resolves that conflict, but it’s never shown. I guess there wasn’t a song for that.

But if you’re one of the 30 million people who’ve made Mamma Mia! the smash hit musical it is, you probably don’t have a problem with the narrative’s kinks. You want to know how well this tale—about a bride-to-be luring three of her mother’s past lovers to her wedding in the hope of discovering which one is Dad—translates from stage to screen.

The cast is terrific. Seyfried, as young Sophie, and Streep, as her mother, Donna, imbue the flick with bouncy energy, and both carry a tune superbly. And while the potential fathers—Brosnan, Firth and Skarsgard—don’t fare quite as well in the vocal department, they still do a good job of playing against their established stiff-Brit personas to comedic effect.

On the technical side, things aren’t so terrific. Director Lloyd helmed the original Broadway show, but offstage she seems a little overwhelmed. If there’s any attractive choreography, it’s lost in close-ups and quick cuts. And with no apparent thought given to shot composition, the film’s aesthetic rests solely on the shoulders of the Greek seaside locales.

All in all, Mamma Mia! probably works better as a stage production. But even if the film version won’t have you dancing in the aisles, its uncannily catchy ABBA tunes will still be stuck in your head for days.


Matthew Scott Hunter

Get more Matthew Scott Hunter

Previous Discussion:

  • This year’s event features another packed lineup of short films, with more than 120 selections spread over 20-plus thematic programs and four days.

  • The three-day event—which will showcase more than 50 short films, along with one feature—kicks off with a free night of films at Backstage Bar and ...

  • Returning to the Palms, LVFF 2018 offers talked-about indie films shorts programs, animation, student films, parties and more.

  • Get More Film Stories
Top of Story