Mamma Mia! (2008)

mamma mia poster 2008 movie
6.5 Overall Score
Story: 5/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 8/10

Good location, good cast

Story feels shoehorned into songs

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Mamma Mia!

Studio:  Littlestar Productions

Genre(s):  Musical/Comedy

Release Date(s):  June 30, 2008 (UK)/July 18, 2008 (US)

MPAA Rating:  PG-13

mamma mia 2008 dancing queen meryl streep christine baranski julie walters

Dancing Queens might be a stretch…

Sophie Sheridan (Amanda Seyfried) is marrying Sky (Dominic Cooper), but Sophie feels she’s missing something.  Sophie’s fiercely independent mother Donna (Meryl Streep) has never told Sophie who her father is, but finding her diary, Sophie knows it is either Sam Carmichael (Pierce Brosnan), Harry Bright (Colin Firth), or Bill Anderson (Stellan Skarsgård).  Inviting all three, Sophie has a plan to find her real father.  Sophie expects to recognize her father when she see him but seeing Sam, Harry, and Bill doesn’t help Sophie.  Now, Sophie must find out who her father is before the wedding as her mother Donna tries with her friends Rosie (Julie Walters) and Tanya (Christine Baranski) tries to find out why Bill, Harry, and Sam have suddenly shown up.

Directed by Phyllida Lloyd, Mamma Mia! (sometimes called Mamma Mia!:  The Movie) is based on the 1999 stage musical.  The film features a blend of the band ABBA’s music to tell the story (with additional music composed by Benny Andersson).  The film was a massive box office success but received mixed reviews.  The film and Meryl Streep received Golden Globe nominations but Pierce Brosnan won a Razzie for Worst Supporting Actor.

mamma mia 2008 three dads pierce brosnan colin firth stellan skarsgard

Three Men and a Marrying Woman

Mamma Mia! seems like an easily appealing musical on paper but also a bad idea.  The music of ABBA is kind of divisive (most like it or hate it).  The musical kind of turns out as expected despite a great cast and location.

The problem with basing a musical around existing songs instead of songs around a story is that it feels forced.  You sit there wondering “when will they sing ‘Dancing Queen’ or ‘The Winner Takes It All’”.  Unlike something like Moulin Rouge with used contemporary music, it had a larger swath of music to borrow from…here, you’re stuck with ABBA.  The plot feels rather shoehorned into the songs.

It features a great cast.  Meryl Streep might not be the greatest singer, but her guts as an actress make-up for any singing challenges.  Most of the cast aren’t singers and it shows throughout the movie, but it does feel like they are having fun stepping out of their typical roles and that goes a long way.  I do kind of like the use of the islanders as a traditional Greek chorus at points but I wish they had pushed that farther.

mamma mia 2008 cast waterloo ending

Partying on til the end!

The movie’s location also helps.  It was shot at different locations in Greece (plus a few Laguna Beach scenes).  The nice Mediterranean location looks great and it does add to the musical by giving it a whimsical feel which ties into the Greek mythos nature of the story.

Mamma Mia! isn’t the best musical, but it also isn’t very heavy.  If you need a light, fluffy musical filled with easy to sing songs, Mamma Mia! might be a good choice in that sense.  The movie’s massive success eventually did lead to plans for a sequel.  The follow-up to Mamma Mia! is expected in theaters in 2018…ten years after the original.  Since they’ve sung most of the ABBA songs people know, will they go obscure or reuses the tunes?

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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