Mamma Mia! (2008) – Phylida Lloyd

The final recommendation for my screening of Jailhouse Rock for the Great Movies – 100 Years of Film is the beloved stage musical, Mamma Mia!

Using the catchy tunes penned by cherished pop group, ABBA, the tale is a but of a post-modern Philadelphia Story as a young woman, Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) is on the cusp of being married to Sky (Dominic Cooper). There is one thing she wants more than anything, to know who her father is. Her mother, Donna (Meryl Streep) had a bit of a fling with three different men, Bill (Stellan Skarsgard), Sam (Pierce Brosnan) and Harry (Colin Firth) over the course of the summer in the nine months before Sophie was born.

Sophie has invited all three to the wedding, and they all show. As the wedding draws closer Donna tries to deal with the arrival of these three, and taking solace with her friends, Rosie (Julie Walters) and Tanya (Christine Baranski).

The songs are perfectly married to the story, and they make you want to sing along – Dancing Queen, Waterloo, Super Trouper, Lay All Your Love On Me, SOS, Take a Chance On Me. So many songs, in fact, that you can’t help but sing along.

ABBA has always had a bit of a soft spot in my heart, I recall in my mother’s parents’ house, there were a few ABBA cassettes, and consequently, I associate a lot of this music with family. Consequently, I rather enjoy this musical.

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Sure, not everyone in the film have the pipes to carry the songs properly, but it’s beautifully shot in Greece, it’s infectious with its joy and it’s very hard not to enjoy this adaptation.

It’s also a joy if you can’t get out to see a professional performance of the musical. It helps carry you through until you can – but the stage version can’t compete with the location shooting of the film. It’s a stunning looking film with its imagery.

The choreography is simple and fun, the songs are catchy, the cast is likeable. The film is not going to change the world, it’s just an adaptation of a very enjoyable musical.  It shouldn’t be taken as anything more than that, and should be viewed in that way.

Every time I’ve seen this version, or the time I was lucky enough to catch a stage version, you can’t help but come out in a great mood. And sometimes that’s what you need from a movie, you don’t need some vast commentary on social injustice, explore complex moral themes, sometimes it’s just about family, love, and pop songs that have endured for decades.

Yeah, I’ll admit it. I like this one. I like it a lot, and I love to sing along with it as well. Like I said, for me, it reminds me of family, and that’s what the musical is all about.

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