Bizarre, bizarre, bizarre, yet how utterly beguiling and hilarious Mamma Mia: The Movie is.
For anyone not in the know, this is the story of a single mother (Donna played by Meryl Streep) and daughter (Sophie played by Amanda Seyfried) who live on a Greek Island. Having found her mum's old diary, the daughter invites three possible candidates that could be her father to her wedding. Obviously hilarity ensues, all told to the songs of ABBA.
Before I get started I have to say I loved the film. It's the ultimate feel good movie, it's just that it's very, very bad in so many ways.
To me it felt like an over-long amateur music video. The Greek Isle Hotel location seemed like a poor blue screen soundstage and everything thing looked like it had been filmed in soft focus with a bit of vaseline around the edges of the camera lens.
But to my horror (or maybe delight?), none of the actors could actually sing. I mean none of them. Well, OK, maybe some of them, but certainly not the lead actors Pierce Brosnan (one of the prospective dad's) or Meryl Streep. But maybe that's part of its charm. As you get the impression they are just going to act their way through if they can't properly sing along (and there are a lot of songs). Ultimately we get a film filled with murdered ABBA songs.
On the positive side it's acted with such enthusiasm and it looked like the cast were really enjoying themselves, that you can't help but enjoy it (and there's a lot to overlook).
The ever dependable Brit Julie Walters and Christine Branaski (an American TV mainstay) as Donna's grown up friends are fantastic and provide lots of laughs (although you can't help but see a little of Mrs. Overall from Acorn Antiques in Julie Walters performance, but that's never a bad thing).
Some of the Greek locations look amazing. The church on the hillside all lit up in the evening for the wedding looked breathtaking and the tranquil blue sea backdrop makes you want to run to the beach.
Before I forget, don't leave the cinema too soon at the end as there's a great homage to ABBA with the main cast all performing two songs in some pretty over-the-top ABBA-esque costumes. Here are some of costumes from the film photographed at the Arclight Hollywood.
Mamma Mia: The Movie costumes
Like I've said before, I didn't make it to Mamma Mia: The Musical in London's West End, but The Movie is ultra camp and makes you want to get out your old ABBA collection and put on your dancing shoes. There was a lot of gray and gay hair in the audience and lots of laugh out loud moments. I myself cried with laughter all the way through and was literally in tears of joy when they performed Dancing Queen. You really do just have to give yourself over to this movie.
The three contenders for Sophie's dad
I have to say, Colin Firth's gay 'dad', came as a bit of a surprise - I was not expecting that.
If you like this movie and haven't seen them yet, I'd highly recommend Muriel's Wedding and The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, for some other stand-out camp ABBA inspired performances.
So, you probably get the impression I enjoyed this movie. I think I was just captivated by how bizarre and bad it was. Maybe the worst musical movie, but certainly a lot of fun. I give Mamma Mia: The Movie three stars ***, but can't wait to relive the experience on DVD with a bottle of bubbly and box of chocolates.
Even though it's not the best, I'm sure this soundtrack will sell like hot-cakes in the U.S.A:
In the UK: