Mamma Mia!

Mamma Mia! ★★½

Based on playwright Catherine Johnson’s long-running production Mamma Mia! (1999), Phyllida Lloyd‘s romantic comedy jukebox musical Mamma Mia! (2008) pairs iconic ABBA tunes like “I Have a Dream”, "Money, Money, Money", “Voulez-Vous”, “Take a Chance on Me”, “Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)”, “Dancing Queen”, and, of course "Mamma Mia" with a cast loaded with stars. 

Is it a fun watch? Sure, I enjoyed it. Is it a good film? Definitely not. The story is painfully contrived, regularly misuses songs, and has no emotional depth because of how limited the main character’s screen time is. The acting performances are regularly suspect, even from A-list talent. The singing performances have a lot of painfully flat notes and more than once I noticed lips being out of sync with a singing voice. 

The cinematography and editing are extremely underwhelming, which is a shame because the film’s primary shooting location, the Greek island of Skopelos, is stunningly beautiful with its limestone cliffs, lush greenery, and white sand beaches set against stark blue skies and turquoise water. I also wasn’t digging the set design, which would have you believe the tiny 10-person church on a cliff could seat a huge crowd and have room for an aisle. 

Mamma Mia! (2008) is and foremost for its fans, both of the show and its music. Temper your expectations if you are not either of those groups.

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