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Friday, July 18, 2008

Mamma Mia! - the 'take a chance on me' review

Mamma Mia! (PG)

Dir. Phyllida Lloyd

Reviewed by Matt Adcock

Isn’t that just typical, you’re a young bride-to-be trying to find your real father and suddenly through the ‘magic’ of Abba three show up at once… This is the premise for Mamma Mia! the big screen version of the hit musical stage show from top British theatre director, Phyllida Lloyd.

You see twenty years ago, Meryl Streep’s Donna went for a spot of sun, sea and romance on a Greek island, but after a knock back from her chosen man (Pierce Brosnan’s Sam) she got busy with two other fellas – Harry (Colin Firth) and Bill (Stellan Skarsgard). Now the chickens have come home to roost because even though nobody knows for sure which is the resulting child Sophie’s (Amanda Seyfried) real dad – thanks to a quick peruse of her mum's diary - she manages to invite all three potential fathers to her wedding… But to quote the classic line from Highlander – "there can be only one"… and so the stage is set for a sing-along romantic comedy that plays the stage show against a lush Mediterranean picture postcard backdrop.

How you feel about Mamma Mia will depend on your love for Abba, this isn’t your average musical with a ‘burst into song’ moment at strategic intervals, this is a full on disco karaoke overdose of 70’s pop, dance routines and slapstick episodes often featuring Julie Walters falling over.

Some people will love the resulting over the top camp overdose, which drips Greek cheese from every orifice; others are likely to run screaming in panic from the cinema. It’s certainly an experience and although not strictly my ‘cup of tea’ I must confess that the movie has energy and is a lot more fun than Sex In The City. Colin Firth manages to stake his Alpha Male claim as the suitors playfully tussle for the heart of Donna – the ex Mr Darcy even stealing some of the scenes at the end.
Meryl Streep does an amazing job as the reformed wild child, rediscovering her relationship with Sam and getting to know her daughter again in the way that can only happen on screen.

As they say "The Winner Takes It All" and the winner here is undoubtedly the film studio, laughing all the way to the bank as the wider audience the cinema gives the show brings in the “Money Money Money”.

DARKMATTERS RATING SYSTEM (all ratings out of maximum 10 but '-' is bad whereas '+' is good):

Endorphin Stimulation: ööööö (5)
+ Fun and frothybut not substantial

Tasty Action: ööööö (5)
+ Camp dance moves ahoy!

Gratuitous Babeness: öööööö (6)
+ Amanda Seyfried you would, Meryl Streep maybe not so much...

Mind Blight / Boredom: öööööööö (8)
- This will drag like a broken leg if you don't like ABBA

Comedic Value: öööööö (6)
+ Yep watching people fall over is funny - music or not...

Arbitrary final rating: ööööö (5)
If you liked the stage show add two more stars.

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