Drama “Queen”:Review for “Mamma Mia!”

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A jukebox musical is a musical that uses songs that were not originally written for the play, like Moulin Rouge!, Across the Universe, and even Singin’ in the Rain. Moulin Rouge! Has contemporary music like Madonna’s “Like a Virgin”, while Universe has all Beatles songs. Singin’ in the Rain features songs that were in vaudeville revues, like the title song. Mamma Mia! can now be included in that category of jukebox musical. The film has songs all written and preformed by the Swedish pop/disco group ABBA. Originally on London’s West End, Mamma Mia! takes place on a little Greek island where a young girl is about to get married. Her name is Sophie (Amanda Seyfried, HBO’s Big Love) and she has no idea who her father is. Her mother owns abed and breakfast on the island and is played pretty well by Oscar winner Meryl Streep. Her voice, which you may have heard in Postcards from the Edge or A Prairie Home Companion, is not perfect, but very good. Feisty Sophie decides to rummage into her mother’s things and finds a diary that hints at three men being the father. Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth, and Stellan Skarsgard play the potential fathers, but only the ex-secret agent has a chance to belt. The music, which ranges from energetic (Dancing Queen) to dramatic (The Winner Takes It All) to just plain silly (Honey Honey), is very enjoyable. Yes, they songs are covers, but they are enjoyable covers. The songs are the highlight of the film. Amanda Seyfried has a beautifully sweet voice and has talent. Here’s the question: Can 007 sing? Not really. Pierce Brosnan has a decidedly average voice. It will kind of make you cringe when he sings “S.O.S.” with Meryl Streep. The choreography is awful…that is if you can call it choreography. Julie Walters and Christine Baranski play Donna’s spunky best friends. Both are very funny and suited for the role. From very strange movements on a dock to Meryl Streep toppling over on top of a roof, the dancing is memorable only because of how awful it is. The plot is totally outrageous and the dialogue mind-numbingly stupid. What is interesting about this film, however, is the use of the music. Across the Universe uses the songs more as set pieces than dialogue. Mamma Mia! uses most of the songs (all except “Super Trouper”) as the dialogue. Cute enough to get by, but still not that good. Good for a chick flick, though.
Grade: C+

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