Naturally, I have always been an ABBA fan. Who hasn’t? And as an unashamed lover of musicals too, the idea of a film adaptation of Mamma Mia appealed to me greatly. For those of you who have been living in what frankly must be a cultural vacuum for the past thirty years, Mamma Mia! (yes, the exclamation point is obligatory) is the most successful musical ever produced. It is based on the works of Swedish super group ABBA. I won’t bore you with the plot details apart from the fact that it is a sweeping sing song romp of a ride with a thread of paternal confusion, maternal affection and a good dollop of humour.
At the film’s opening I was in a state of high stress; partly because of the little bugger in front of me who insisted on rustling his M&Ms throughout The Dark Knight trailer but also because I was genuinely hoping this film would be a success.
It opens with our heroine, Sophie (played by Amanda Seyfried—previously best known for her supporting role in the much over looked Mean Girls—I believe she played a character whose breasts could predict the weather) singing softly. I immediately doubt her ability, her quavering tones no match for my own dulcet notes, but as the movie progresses it is clear she has the voice of an angel and wins the crowd over with her talent and lack of brassier throughout. But it is Meryl Streep (Sophie’s mother) who really steals the show both vocally and perhaps surprisingly on the dancing front. One might say she is the Dancing Queen. Oh dear.
But things only really kick of with the entry Julie Walters and Christine Baranski who both possess magnificent comic personae carrying the film throughout. Indeed, all of the cast step up to the plate in this regard and the piece is not afraid of poking fun at itself and its inspiration though never straying into disrespect. The three male leads are super troupers also, but personally I am outraged that actors should be paid what I am assuming is a healthy sum for dressing in nylon cat suits and singing ABBA. I do that regularly free of charge and never receive anything apart from a nervous glance from a passer-by.
The film is shot well and everyone sounds and looks wonderful. Frankly I defy any woman, gay man, or sexually unsure young male, not to find the gyrating form of Mr. Brosnan in a wet shirt arousing. I hasten to add that this is the only exception to my generally heterosexual approach to life. That and William Moseley in full Narnian battle regalia.
Some sceptics thought that studios and actors would be unlikely to take a chance (take a chance, take a chance) by associating themselves with a project that could so easily have been a disaster, but with the right cast and crew Mamma Mia! is a success and the winner, as they say, takes it all.
Might I urge the reader, if indeed there is one, to go and see this triumph of modern cinema and be sure to sit through the extremely entertaining credits. It is a sign of the actors’ karisma and charm that these even elicited enthusiastic applause from my fellow audience members (even the chap in the beige waistcoat at the rear of the auditorium who smelt slightly too strongly of Um Bongo). Also it is required by law to sing along loudly regardless of whether others choose to join you.