I am a huge Abba fan and having watched Mamma Mia on stage three times (so far) I was really looking forward to watching the movie. I know a lot of people think Mamma Mia is about Abba but actually it isn’t. It has a complete original plot with the songs of Abba entwined around the scenes and the thing is, Abba songs are so awesome and talk so directly about life that they hardly had to change the lyrics if at all.
It is all about Donna – the character played by the amazingly beautiful and talented Meryl Street. She lives in a Greek Island – the amazing set for the movie, just incredible, I need to BEG my Greek friend to take me there ASAP – with her daughter Sophie. Sophie is 20 years old and is getting ready to get married to her boyfriend Sky. What Sophie most wants right now is to have her father to give her away. The thing is, she doesn’t really know who her father is, and neither does Donna. Sophie was conceived in the 70s, when Donna was a “Dancing Queen” heading the group Donna and the Dynamoes (her two friends Tanya and Rosie – who have gone to the island to attend the wedding).
One of my favorite tunes: SOS
Back then she met this guy Sam (Pierce Brosnan in the movie. Gee, the guy can sing) whom she fell in love with but he was engaged so he had to leave. Heartbroken, she had a fling with other two guys around the same time, Bill and Harry. They never knew she ended up pregnant and things were left like that. Now, Sophie found her mom’s diary from when back when, learns that she has three possible dads and sends letters to all of them inviting them to the wedding, posing as Donna. All three men, trying to re-kindle the friendship they had with that amazing woman, decide to go.
Dancing Queen sequence – I dare you not to want to stand up and dance!
When Donna sees them, she freaks out (leading to the wonderful number with the title song Mamma Mia) because she knows the fact that Sam is back is no good but then it is already too late. She must then deal with all three men back in her life, she thinks Sophie doesn’t know about one of them being her father and all three men come to the sudden conclusion that they have a daughter which leads to some really comic scenes.
I LOVE the musical. I love all the songs, I love that behind all the uplifting façade of a fun musical, it is really a powerful sentimental journey for Donna who sees her baby growing up , leaving her and their home for the first time whilst having to face her love for Sam and the fact that he married someone else. But now he is back so what then?
A touching moment between Sophie and Donna – Slipping Through my Fingers
But how did the movie fare in comparison to the stage show? Well, not as good, I am afraid but then again, I adore the play so much, it would never be a fair comparison to start with. There is the fact that some songs were cut short, some scenes felt really rushed and some numbers were entirely left out (no *gasps* Knowing me, Knowing you! Sacrilege!) but I guess that is expected since the show had nearly three hours and the movie ended up with less than 2. Having said that, all actors were so good, from the youngsters that played Sophie and Sky to Julie Walters and Colin Firth (both very funny) and the stars Meryl Streep and Pierce Brosnan who was as charming as ever. They can all carry a tune.
The Winner Takes it All, the most gut wrenching song of Abba. The best song on stage ended being good on screen too!
In the end I guess this is not a movie for everybody. If you don’t like musicals, just skip it. People do start singing out of nowhere – Abba songs on top of everything. For me, this is THE feel good movie of the summer. Abba songs do make everything better.
(And in the end when the credits are rolling, they “come back” to the screen just like the encore at the theatre – all of them dressed in those dreaded Abba Suits singing Dancing Queen and Waterloo! Yay)