Following the current trend of turning hit musicals into movies (Rent, Hairspray, Sweeney Todd, etc.), comes perhaps the most confusing adaptation to date: Mamma Mia!
It’s set in Greece, has an Italian title, a predominantly British and American cast and is based on songs written by Swedes.
Whilst it sounds like a recipe for disaster the film somehow manages to work, on most levels at least.
Amanda Seyfield plays Sophie, a young bride-to-be who has a sudden, inexplicable urge to find out who her father is. By inviting all three possible candidates (played by actors Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth and Stellan Skarsgård, respectively) to her wedding on the sun-drenched Greek island where she lives with her hotel-owner mother Donna (Meryl Streep), she figures she’ll be able to ascertain who of the three should be walking her down the aisle. This proves more difficult than she expects, however, as even her mother isn’t sure who the father is.
As weak as it may sound, that is essentially the movie’s entire plot, but luckily there are enough distractions to keep us from dwelling on the lack of story – namely the abundance of catchy Abba songs throughout the movie, the impossibly idyllic Greek island setting and some very tongue-in-cheek performances from the film’s stellar cast.
In fact one of the main reasons why the film is a success is due to the near-perfect casting by Priscilla John. Meryl Streep proves once again that she can pretty much turn her hand to anything; Pierce Brosnan delivers a likeable and distinctly unBond-like performance as Sam; Colin Firth is fittingly inept as Harry; Sweden’s own Stellan Skarsgård takes an enjoyable comedic turn as Bill; and Julie Walters impresses as Donna’s friend Rosie, with her now all-too-familiar rendition of a feisty middle-aged woman.
The only weak link is Amanda Seyfield, whose annoying teen-like performance just seems to serve as a constant reminder that this is in fact a Hollywood film. I’m not sure if it’s even possible to over-act in a musical, but she definitely tries her hardest.
Perhaps the real star of the film is its soundtrack – Benny and Björn’s songs still sound fresh today and their tireless energy is impossible to ignore, even when sung by actors.
It’s refreshingly obvious from the performances that everyone thoroughly enjoyed making Mamma Mia! and that they clearly haven’t taken any of it too seriously, so if you approach the film with a similar attitude then you’re likely to leave with a smile on your face – and half a dozen Abba songs in your head.