Movie Review: Mamma Mia

WARNING: I freely admit that I’m probably not the intended audience for this film. If you cherish this movie, holding it dear to your heart, I strongly suggest you not read what I’m about to post. Because I’m not gonna hold back on this one. It’s very rare that I watch a movie I strongly dislike, and even rarer that I finish it. And it’s even less common that I feel vehemently opposed to a movie. As if its very existence is something which must be struck down in order to make the world a happier place not just for me, but for humanity in general.

Mamma Mia is one such film.

So please, don’t take this personally if you loved the movie. Just because I think something you enjoyed is actually a piece of mind rotting garbage, don’t be sad. We all have different opinions. And sure, some of those opinions are right (mine), and some are wrong (yours), but that’s why I have a blog and you don’t. And in this case, there is no debate on this film. Because you see, I’m its worst enemy: an Abba fan who’s also a fan of musicals. Yes, it’s true. I’m even willing to out myself as an aficionado of seventies Swedish pop music in an effort to expose this movie for the awfulness it truly is. I even like Meryl Streep and Pierce Brosnan. But, in case you haven’t gotten the point yet, I did not like this movie.

At all.

It fails on so many levels. Where shall I begin? My biggest gripe definitely roots itself in one simple fact: this isn’t a story. This is a series of pop songs never intended to tell a story, forced together into a “plot” in which the characters aren’t characters–they’re simply devices to be manipulated until they get to a spot where they can belt out off key pop tunes that make about as much sense (in the context of the movie) as asgf asgf apaweroag aw48awt3 asvd90q2t ag 9qw4t asgp. The characters go from loving to hating to manic to drugged to stupid in about the same amount of time most normal people take to do simple math.

And while I’m on the subject of “characters,” let me state another complaint: I didn’t meet one single person in this movie that I would want to meet in real life. Ever. The teenagers are idiots who do stupid things for even dumber reasons, the grownups are brash and annoying, separated from the younger generation only because they’re more wrinkly.

Next issue? Morality. This movie had none of it. Let’s boil it down to its essentials: a woman was so in love with a guy twenty years ago that she slept with him, and when he left to get married to another woman, she waited a whole week before she slept with another guy. And then another. Then (surprise surprise) she ended up pregnant, but had no clue who the father was. Great premise. The whole movie is one big ball of hormones unleashed on actors who really are capable of much better stuff. And the climax of the film? Where the girl–even though she’s been wanting to get married, she’s standing with her betrothed in front of an altar, she’s got everyone invited and is about to say “I do”–decides that marriage is pretty lame after all, and why not just go off on a cruise with her lover and see the world and worry about marriage later, if at all? How is this something we want portrayed as positive?

I could go on. About the awful singing, and how upsetting it was to have these songs that I liked be ruined by a series of accomplished actors with very unaccomplished singing voices. About the acting itself, which seemed to boil down to “pretend you’re high on meth, and let’s just see what happens.” About the incessant back lighting of Meryl, who must have had a “must be back lit in 90% of the shots” clause in her contract. About how WRONG it was to have JAMES BOND making an idiot of himself.

Deep breath.

If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all, right? Well, let me see . . . something nice . . .

The scenery looked very good on Blu-Ray, and the 5.1 audio track was well done.

Anyway. I’ve taken up enough of my life with this bucket load of refuse. No stars out of four. Return to sender.

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8 Responses to Movie Review: Mamma Mia

  1. raisinfish says:

    This is why I don’t watch this genre of film (meaning chick movies). Because I know I won’t be able to deal with it.

    • raisinfish says:

      Also I don’t know why it took me three tries to get that comment edited correctly.

      • brycemoore says:

        No worries. 🙂 I watched this one mainly because I thought DKC would like it. I was wrong about that, too–she didn’t like it at all. Then again, that might have had to do with the fact that her husband was seething through the whole thing . . .

      • raisinfish says:

        At least it isn’t something your wife was raving about. That would be painful.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Very good points!
    We saw this in the dollar theater, and I was able to laugh at/enjoy it for the most part. But only in its embracing itself as a B movie; it seemed to me that it acknowledges that it’s hokey and has no plot (hello, having Mr. Darcy end up being gay?? And Pierce Brosnan’s constipated expressions while he’s singing couldn’t have been anything but purposeful – I laughed every time they showed him singing). All of that said, I have to agree with a lot of your post – and, as big of an Abba fan as I am (and that’s pretty big), I have no desire to own this movie, which says a lot. Really, listening to the actors sing the movie arrangements of my beloved songs just didn’t cut it – I’d rather listen to the originals. However, if you’ve watched any of Abba’s music videos (I have them all), you’d find the movie an impressive step up. Hehehe…
    -Gretel

    • brycemoore says:

      Re: Very good points!
      Phew! I wasn’t sure what your feelings toward this movie were. Worried I might have made a mortal enemy with my review. 🙂

  3. Anonymous says:

    I agree completely as an almost ABBA fan and fan of musicals. Heck, I’m even a fan of ABBA-related musicals (‘Chess’, for example). But, what were they thinking?
    My mother loved the Broadway show of ‘Mamma Mia’, but (either she is crazy) or it didn’t translate well to film. I sort of got the feeling that Meryl Streep was acting like she was on a stage rather than on camera. Maybe if you were sitting in the balcony, it would have looked like good acting because you couldn’t see all the details and needed the big motions and stuff. But why do that in a film?
    -Becky

    • brycemoore says:

      Yeah–the same thought occurred to me: that this was the stage version of the show (minus the good singing), 100% reproduced for the film. Still, I enjoyed the Broderick/Lane version of The Producers, and they did that in that one, as well. Maybe it’s that this film picked actors, not singers. And that doesn’t even scratch the surface on plot . . .
      Although I will say that if I like characters, I’m willing to be more forgiving of their idiocy. It’s when I hate them the minute I see them that things start to go really wrong.

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