Mamma Mia! (2008) reviewed by Jonathan Berk

With a sequel coming in just over a week, It was time I finally gave Mamma Mia! (2008) a watch. A few years ago, I would have said “I don’t like musicals”, but over the three years I’ve been running, I’ve proven that isn’t the case. Instead, the truth is simply that I don’t like all musicals, and – for the most part – I didn’t like Mamma Mia!

Mamma Mia! just wasn’t made for my sensibilities despite some good performances

Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) is about to marry Sky (Dominic Cooper) and would love for her father to walk her down the aisle. The problem is that her mother, Donna (Meryl Streep), has never told her who her father was, but Sophie has discovered it could be one of three men. Without telling her mother, Sophie invites Sam (Pierce Brosnan), Bill (Stellan Skarsgård), and Harry (Colin Firth) to the wedding with the hopes that she will instantly know her father when she meets him.

One reason this film doesn’t work for me is the way the plot plays out. It is one of those films that just frustrates me because if one person would just be honest with the others, a lot of the zaniness and drama could be avoided. Plots that play out like this often make me turn against the characters, as I can’t relate to them or their choices. While I agree that telling the truth can sometimes be hard, the things the various characters have to do to avoid dealing with that truth seem ten times harder. In the end, the way things play out always feel contrived and silly with a story like this. That may be exactly what it’s supposed to feel like, but it’s not something I connect with.

The next problem with this specific musical for me is the music. I’m not a big fan of Abba. That’s not to say they aren’t good or that some of their songs aren’t catchy – I’ve had the titular song in my head since I watched this film – but they are not my style of music. The songs are also impacted by the performances. Amanda Seyfried did not sing well in Les Miserables (2012) but does so in this film. Meryl Streep, Julie Walters, and Christine Baranski all do fine as well. However, Pierce Brosnan and Dominic Cooper should never do musicals again. Both of their big songs are among the worst moments in the film. Not that they don’t commit to the performance, but the singing is just not good.

Final thoughts…

The film is constructed well, and if you can get past my issues with the plot, then this could be enjoyable. Though, if you can’t get into the music and are outright annoyed by the character’s actions, then you’ll probably feel like me. I’m still planning on heading to the sequel, but I’m not looking forward to Brosnan breaking out into another solo. Mamma Mia! earns the Not a Total Waste of Time rating.

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