Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Pierce Brosnan is no singer

That fact became apparent when I attended a sneak preview of the movie Mamma Mia last night. The film is set in Greece, and features the story of a young woman about to be married who wants to find her father. She invites the three prospects to her wedding, without informing her mother, played by Meryl Streep. Sprinkled liberally throughout the film are the delightful songs of ABBA. Most of the songs are worked in to fit with the plot, but others just seem to be added in for no apparent reason. The beginning of the film is rather annoying, with the mother and daughter both welcoming female friends who have arrived for the wedding. There is a lot of shrieking and screaming as friends are reunited. During the early musical numbers, there is a lot of running up and down steps and jumping up and down in place as some weird substitute for dancing. If the songs had been accompanied by choreographed dance sequences, it would have been easier to take.

The three possible fathers are played by Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth and the Swedish actor Stellan Skarsgård. Brosnan has the biggest role, and unfortunately, is given the opportunity to sing several songs. He's a wonderful actor and very easy on the eyes, but a singer he's not. Colin Firth, on the other hand, did very well with the few lines he had to sing, so it is a bit puzzling why his and Brosnan's roles weren't reversed. Firth would have been the much better choice in the role that required prolonged singing!

The actress who played the daughter in the film, Amanda Seyfried, had the annoying habit of flapping her hands around and groaning in nearly every conversation she had with another character. The director should have pointed this out and put a stop to it right smartish. Distractingly, she flaps throughout the film.

The mother's two friends are played by the wonderful Julie Walters and Christine Baranski, who prances around in a swimsuit without an ounce of cellulite visible. I hate her! Meryl Streep, as always, was the heart and soul of the film, and she turned out to be a wonderful singer (although if she had kept that annoying clump of hair away from her face, I would have enjoyed her performance more).

The ABBA songs were as catchy as ever, although there were several of them that I didn't remember hearing before. I was also delighted to catch small cameo appearances by ABBA members Benny Anderson (playing the piano) and Björn Ulvaeus (in the group of angels (?) during the credits). I didn't notice either of the female members of the group, but they might have been there, too.

Overall, the film was enjoyable, mainly for the rousing performances of the ABBA numbers (except for the wince-inducing Brosnan songs). The auditorium was absolutely packed by 6:45 for the 7:30 show. In fact, there were nearly some fights over empty seats that people claimed they were "saving" for others. At the end of the film, the main members of the cast performed several ABBA numbers in outlandish costumes, and no one left the auditorium. There was a round of applause at the end of the film, and most people seemed to be smiling as they left. Based on this evidence, I predict this one will be a hit. There was an article in a Swedish newspaper recently that stated Benny Anderson and Björn Ulvaeus are BILLIONAIRES. I guess this film will only add more $$$ (or SEK) to the ABBA coffers.


You can get a glimpse of the crowd (behind the cars) lined up outside the theater before the film. What can I say, Knoxville is a busy, happening town!

Final Verdict for Mamma Mia: Three Gherkins for lively music and a general feel-good experience

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