If you know me in person, chances are you have already heard my opinions on this film. Due to the sequel being released this upcoming weekend, I find it fitting that Mamma Mia! be this weeks Movie Musical Monday.
I will start with my issues with the film, and then end on a good note.
PIERCE BROSNAN CAN’T SING. There. That’s my biggest issue with the film. It has been infuriating me since 2008. Everybody else is fine. Sure, Colin Firth and Stellan Skarsgard aren’t the best singers in the whole world, but they’re not awful. Brosnan, however, can’t sing. He can’t carry a tune, he can’t hold a note. It all falls flat with no gusto behind it.
And his character out of the three men is the one with the most singing. Not once did somebody stop and say “hey, maybe we should either dub his voice, or get somebody who can sing. I wonder if Richard Gere is available?”. I was reminded, after rewatching the film that Rita Wilson and Tom Hanks produced it. I thought that we could trust them. Apparently not.
Okay, now that’s off my chest. The other thing that drives me insane about this film has to do with the story and certain things that are said. For example, Sophie, played by the charming Amanda Seyfried, states in the film that she thought she’d know which man was her dad the moment she laid eyes on him….what the hell kind of sense does that make? The other things that are said are things that will for sure be contradicted by the sequel. For example, Donna, played by the incomparable Meryl Streep, states “Somebody’s got it in for me up there. I bet it’s my mother”. Okay. So, in the trailer for the sequel, we clearly have Cher playing her mother. Also, how can you do the flashbacks, when you’ve already shown pictures of all the men with Donna when they were younger? Like, we all know what they’re supposed to look like, and then none of them look like that in the actual sequel. Ugh. I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me watch the sequel then I’ll revisit that topic.
Anyway, the good, yes, the good. The music itself is enjoyable and catchy. I mean, it’s ABBA. You try to not sing along to the title song “Mamma Mia”. I dare you. Bet you can’t do it. But, the film feels like exactly what it is, a pop musical. The story was written around the songs, as opposed to the songs either being written for the story, or them both being written simultaneously. That’s part of the reason that I feel this movie musical lacks real, powerful emotion. It’s all fluff, which is totally fine. Rock of Ages is pretty much just fluff, but I love that movie musical. It’s fun. And that’s what the film adaptation of Mamma Mia! is: fun.
From a technical stand point, the camera work is good. There’s some fun framing that happens during the dance numbers. The color palette is tremendous. It’s all very bright and vibrant, which I think helps to add to the fun aspect of the film. The lighting is tremendous, whether it’s studio lighting or using practical lights.
Meryl Streep knocks it our of the park, obviously. But, my favorite thing about the film is the chemistry between Meryl Streep, Julie Walters, and Christine Baranski. They honestly just feel like the oldest of friends, which is what they’re supposed to be, so that’s good. Those three actresses just make the whole thing look like so much fun. Even the men look like they’re all having a great time. Especially in the end credits scene where they sing “Waterloo”. I mean, Colin Firth is IN IT.
All in all, Mamma Mia! is a fun film to watch, just don’t listen too hard to Pierce Brosnan singing. Or, do what I do every time and imagine what it would have been like to have Richard Gere in the film. Sure, he’s got a different vibe than Brosnan, for sure, but I think he could have pulled it off. And we already know that he can sing and sing well (thank you, Chicago). Honestly, if my rage about this hasn’t died in the last ten years, it never well, and that is just something that I have to accept.