A lot of hype accompanied the release of Mamma Mia! – a movie based on the stage musical featuring the songs of the hugely successful Swedish pop band ABBA. With an all-star cast and music that still remains popular after more than three decades, the film seemed like a good idea theoretically. Then something went amiss: the movie was actually made.
Bound by possibly the flimsiest plot in the history of musicals, Mamma Mia! is the story of Sophie Sheridan (Amanda Seyfried) who is engaged to Sky (Dominic Cooper) and doesn't known who her father is, so she invites the three possible candidates Sam (Pierce Brosnan), Bill (Stellan Skarsgård) and Harry (Colin Firth) to her forthcoming wedding, without telling her mother Donna (Meryl Streep). They all like to sing ABBA songs, it turns out, and that's what they do throughout the film. Only, most of them – with the surprising exception of the relative newcomer Amanda Seyfried – can't really sing (and by the looks of it can't really act either). Everything from Meryl Streep's overacting to Pierce Brosnan's attempts at singing (appalling!!) lead one to the conclusion that a world where people break into song, that too of the ABBA variety, every two minutes would be a very, VERY scary place!
In an attempt to seem fun, the movie goes for being campy and in the process collapses on its own ridiculousness. The plot – if you can call it that – has so many holes in it that it puts a sieve to shame. The costumes are unflattering, the direction lacking, the whole project so flat that Stellan Skarsgård seems to have given up on the whole thing and Colin Firth just seems embarrassed to be there.
Am I being too hard on the film? Perhaps. But that's only because I expected so much more out of it. By the end, it is fairly obvious that the only point of the movie was to make lots of money off the success of ABBA, which seems to have worked seeing how much the movie has grossed. Why the success? Possibly because if you choose to ignore all that's wrong with it and take it for what it is – an elaborate excuse to sing ABBA tunes – you will find yourself enjoying the happenings and singing along with songs you had no idea you knew the words to, and are quite likely to be mesmerised by the enchanting Greek islands the movie was filmed on. So yes, if you're looking for something campy and fun in an over the top way, then Mamma Mia! was made for you. Everyone else, expect to be underwhelmed.