Mamma Mia! (2008)

This famous musical is so shiny, so glossy and so enthusiastic about itself that one feels like a curmudgeon pointing out its structural flaws, but there’s plenty of those to be found. For starters the story is rather strange and off-putting despite its shiny presentation, what with Amanda Seyfried’s Sophie basically upending the lives of three strangers on a whim, and it only gets weirder from there. Meryl Streep is surprisingly miscast as Donna, wandering through the movie like she’s acting in a different film than the rest of the cast, while much of her singing (especially on “The Winner Takes It All”) is uneven and off-key. The same is true of Stellan Skarsgard, Colin Firth and (especially) Pierce Brosnan, and while all of them share on-screen chemistry, it’s hard to enjoy a musical when the cast is not up for it. Overall however, the setting is aesthetically pleasing and of course the ABBA music is always a blast to hear, and there are some musical numbers that work very well, like the “Gimme Gimme Gimme (A Man After Midnight”) segment that rescue the overall movie from doldrums.

Rating: ★★★ (out of 5)

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