Sunday, August 03, 2008

Movie Report: Not My Mamma's Mia!

I'm afraid someone is going to call me an old sourpuss for being grumpy about Mamma Mia! The movie is a musical, set to the songs of the Swedish pop group, ABBA (interestingly enough, the name is formed from the acronym made by the first letter of each group member's given name. Let's see, what other musical groups do I know who named themselves that way? Oh, yes.) The songs are very melodic and have a catchy beat, if you like the over-produced market-driven sounds of ABBA. The story, if you can call it that, is about a 20-year-old young woman about to be married, who discovers in her mother's diary that her father could be any one of three men, so she invites all three to her wedding on a remote Greek island and they all show up. The young woman has two female friends who show up to be bridesmaids and the mother (Meryl Streep) has two of her friends show up, so there are lots of photo and singing opportunities as the friends and ex-boyfriends go cavorting around the picturesque island singing at the top of their lungs, without getting breathless.

Speaking of picturesque, the only thing beautiful in the movie is the mountain scenery. A 20-year-old young woman on her wedding day should look pretty, but this one, Amanda Seyfried, looks odd. (She does not look as good in the movie as the poster above depicts her.) Her husband-to-be, a Greek islander one takes it, looks positively developmentally-disabled.

I realize that musicals require more of a suspension of disbelief than I like to give anything, but this one makes even less sense. Why is a movie set on a Greek island, about an American woman with English speaking boyfriends called "Mamma Mia!" for example? "Mamma Mia" is Italian for "my mother." No one is Italian or speaks Italian in the movie. The songs were popular ABBA songs before anyone thought about making a musical, so, even though there is an attempt to concoct a story around the songs, there is even more disconnection with the so-called story than is typical in musicals. Across the Universe did the same thing with Beatles songs and did a much better job of crafting a coherent story around the lyrics.

Yes, I agree, Meryl Streep is a wonderfully-talented actress -- or used to be. It has been 25 years since she made such classic films as The French Lieutenant's Woman, Sophie's Choice, and Silkwood. Unfortunately, Mamma Mia! is more in keeping with the recent clunkers like A Prairie Home Companion, The Devil Wears Prada, and Lions for Lambs. In all of those movies, as well as in Mamma Mia!, my criticism is not so much of Streep's performance as that she is in them in the first place. Surely, she doesn't need the work that badly.

The Wife did not want to take me to this movie; she said she knew I wouldn't like it. A friend has seen the movie several times and would like to see it again. I thought if the friend liked it that much, it couldn't be all that bad. And it wasn't all that bad; it just wasn't very good. I gave it two stars

8 comments:

rdl said...

I think i'll skip this one; especially since i only see about 2-3 a yr. I don't think you would've liked Sex in the City either - but i did -being a fan of the show and all.

Catch Her in the Wry said...

I told you you wouldn't like it. And you even said most everything I did in my review.

We did see Black Knight this weekend, and it was much, much better than Mamma.

Crockhead said...

You're right, Catch, I did sort of channel your review. And when I look at my comment on your review I say that you saved me a wasted afternoon. Then I went and wasted it anyway. It's tough getting old.

easy said...

Hey amish law! You like talking politics, why don't you wander over to the amishpundit.blogspot.com and have a come to jesus moment with him

Crockhead said...

I did, Easy. What an idiot. He's not Amish; he's just stupid.

easy said...

Good work! Sucks being stupid and a poser, eh?

Lydia said...

Hmmmm. See, I thought Across the Universe was pretty but stupid, while I enjoyed Mamma Mia (despite finding it Entirely Cringe-worthy to start). Those reactions are entirely based on expectations, though: I thought Across the Universe was supposed to be good, while I had lower expectations of Mamma Mia.

I don't think you mentioned Adaptation, which I'll add to your Streep Mediocre Movie list, as it's my Least favorite of her recent batch. She was great in all of them, but, yeah. Why hasn't she been in any Great movies recently?

I'll admit I Giggled at your JACK reference - and your problem with Mamma Mia being Italian. I had early problems with the bride's infantile manipulativeness, then decided I had to take that suspended disbelief and hike it up a bit more. Then I enjoyed it :D.

Just makes me wish again that I'd seen Hairspray...

movie buff said...

this is one of the only plays i've ever seen, which ended up being great... it's funny to think of ol' Pierce taking a stab at singing, yeeesh