Friday, July 18, 2008

Mamma Mia

I loved Mamma Mia! as I love Abba songs. It is true that there is a new Abba song played every five minutes or so. I certainly enjoyed it as a musical retrospective of the group's entire musical repertoire. But to sit and listen to their entire works all at the same time is almost too much of a good thing, even for a fan like me. Nevertheless, this is a fun movie to see.

I hope you like Abba's music and then you will find it worthwhile. I did not see the Broadway play, so I cannot compare, but it is a very entertaining movie as a musical comedy, rather than being politically important or educational or even very useful. I can see how the plot line, as limited as it is, might perhaps be most interesting or useful to anyone with similar issues involving suspect parentage. It's all sort of semi-timeless, the relevant events being the heroine's birth and now her wedding. This movie runs to a very unexpected romantic conclusion, without any assistance from DNA testing.

Mamma Mia! is not a great romance, but emotions play a major role most of the time. The dancing is rather surprising and unexpectedly relentless, organized and rehearsed, to say the least and the singing is sort of borderline in tune much of the time. It could definitely be more tightly edited and shortened without losing the sense and impact of the story. The costuming of the singers is hilarious!

The boyfriend and the male actors, in general, are two-dimensional. What you see it what you get. The boyfriend is mostly an accessory to the heroine. The possible father figures, major actors all, Pierce Brosnan, Stellan Skarsgard and Colin Firth, are almost cartoonishly filled out, although their yacht scene with the heroine appears really idyllic and fun.

I have to say that the way scenery is used is a very important part of the movie. The fantastic photography of the improbably calm Mediterranean Sea (at least at times) and the moonlit evenings, the white buildings of the island, the pine trees and rocky shorelines, the docks and boats, contribute to stunning, but realistic classic photography. It is inadvertently a tourism advertisement for Greece and the Greek Islands all the way through.

This movie is clearly Meryl Streep's as the dominating character. Her finest acting moments could be her singing and climbing the steep path up to the church. The remainder of the movie offers some of her most surprising movie moments, climbing, dancing, even bed-jumping and bannister-flying! Busy, emotional Streep has to be one of the most gifted and malleable actresses of all time. She dances, sings, changes her accents and appearance. She is so amazing! Of course, she has won so many awards, perhaps she did want something to make her feel more alive!

The film gives the impression of having been overwhelmingly fun to make for her, especially, and for the other actors and actresses. I wish I could hear if it was all as much fun as it looked. There are lots of extras in the movies dancing on the docks and all over the island, and genuine-looking islanders.

For the music and scenery, it is definitely worth seeing. And it is very, very funny.

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