- Gareth Crook
Mamma Mia! (2008)
This was a bad idea. My only hope is that the ABBA songs get me through. I’m not a big ABBA fan, but I like few, enough? What the hell am I subjecting myself to? So Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) is getting married and wants to find out who her father is. With the help of her mother Donna’s (Meryl Streep) old diary she makes a shortlist. Sam (Pierce Brosnan), Harry (Colin Firth) and Bill (Stellan Skarsgård) are invited to the wedding on the Greek island of Kalokairi. Obviously we’re being set up for an hysterical disaster. Except I’m not laughing. This is largely due to the entire cast being excruciatingly irritating and they keep bloody singing. I’m not surprised, but I know this is much loved by many. I can only assume it’s falling into the ‘So bad it’s good’ category, but it’s falling into the ‘Shit, avoid at all costs’ category for me. So about the singing. Well it’s largely awful, a few can hold a tune, but many are beyond tone deaf. ABBA though, it has to be said wrote some superb pop hooks. It’s the only redeeming factor, but honestly you’d be better just listening to a greatest hits album. Sophie has kept her reuniting idea from her mother, who’s busy having a laugh with Tanya (Christine Baranski) and Rosie (Julie Walters) and makes the prospective fathers swear not a word about her inviting them. This lasts about 30 seconds, but really I don’t care. It’s all just saccharin and really not my thing. I like thought provoking films, this does not provoke thought, apart from maybe topping myself. There’s some good actors here, Streep, Walters, even Skarsgård and Firth on their day, but they’re wasted here. I guess I’m taking it too seriously. It’s clearly having a laugh at its own expense, but that doesn’t mean I forgive it. I could prattle on about its many flaws, but I’ll try to be nice. It’s crap, but I don’t hate it. There’s something to be said for its strong female characters, something that I hope is becoming more commonplace in 2020, but even 12 years ago was certainly less so. I’m not convinced this is exactly the best example of female empowerment, but I’m trying to find something positive. I’m genuinely interested for some reason as to which of the men is the father. I’m not sure why, but I’m trying desperately for something to cling to and this is the only thing aside the songs on screen. Make no mistake it’s not easy. Each and every scene brings a new fresh hell of cringed enduring twaddle and... oh I’m sorry, I can’t do it. It’s total shit. Surely these songs deserve better.
I’m genuinely baffled as to why ABBA signed off on this. I even spot Benny (or Bjorn, I’ve no idea) making a brief cameo playing a piano. I’m barely half way though before praying for it to be over. A batshit sequence that sees the bachelor and hen parties combine, also sees the three fathers believing that they are ‘the one’ and wham, the sickening feeling increases. It’s been obvious from the start, but now I’m confident that we’re not going to find out. No one knows who the father is, so they’re all gonna be her father, in one big happy schmaltzy ending. Groan. I should maybe have skipped to the end, that way I’d have missed Brosnan fucking murdering SOS. This really is quite unforgivable, the man should be locked in a dark room with his performance on repeat until he goes mad. I think once or twice should do it. Streep is the only one that comes out of this with a tiny bit of dignity. I’m troubled to my core that this got a sequel (although Mamma Mia Here we go Again is an amusing title). If you are compelled to watch this, do yourself a favour and get as drunk as you possibly can, that way you won’t remember it or you may get lucky and fall asleep and whatever you do, DO NOT WATCH the post credit sequence!