Reel Matt

This blog started as my movie marathon — watching a movie a day for a whole year — and has continued as a place for me to write reviews about movies, TV, and various other items.



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Mamma Mia!

Film #219


The story of a bride-to-be trying to find her real father told using hit songs by the popular ’70s group ABBA.

Year 1, Day 216

BEFORE: Oscar month has ended and being the first day of February that means it’s time for a new chain. The next two weeks are dedicated to romantic films to coincide with Valentine’s Day. I have fourteen films planned but there’s also plenty of advanced screenings coming up so the schedule will be seeing some changes. Kicking things off is Mamma Mia! which ties in nicely with yesterday’s Les Misérables as they are both musicals and both star Amanda Seyfried.

AFTER: It had to happen sometime and Mamma Mia! brings shock and awe tactics back to musicals. What Chicago and Les Misérables improved upon in the genre to make them more than just watchable but actually enjoyable entertainment by themselves, Mamma Mia! just ignored. Almost everything I hate about musicals was in this film which made for quite a painful experience.

Let’s run down the checklist, shall we? It has the random, purposeless outbursts of songs. It has the large choreographed dance numbers with poorly matched lip-syncing. It also has just plain bad singing. With the exception of Amanda Seyfried and to some extent Colin Firth, the singing was just cringe worthy. Normally when you have a musical one of the requirements is that the actors can sing. But there were a lot of people (Pierce Brosnan, Dominic Cooper, and even Meryl Streep) who had less than stellar voices. Often I was picturing myself onscreen and my own horrible voice taking over in everyone’s place. And it’s not like some parts were meant to be more talkie/conversational (à la *Les Misérables), it was just poorly sung. So combine that with the fact that most of the singing was not in a realistic setting (some was like the Donna and The Dynamos concert and other wedding events) and it adds up to just a horrible experience.

The one redeeming part about Mamma Mia! was the fact that it was Abba music. While I didn’t necessarily the movie’s version (see above) all the songs still had the same great tunes and lyrics and as I sat cringing in my seat I was happily whistling along. Another minor plus I’ll give the film is that it told the story well. For having been adapted from previously written music, fitting a story around it was probably very difficult and while it’s a bit unoriginal and not all that attention grabbing, it was effective at getting the point across.

Mamma Mia! is actually the outlier amongst the most recent musicals I’ve seen. After a great run good ole probability stuck me with another musical seemed tailored to my annoyances with the genre. I wouldn’t recommend seeing it but for a more objective opinion, my suite was split in half with supporters and non-supporters. So there are some people who like it but with a 54% on Rotten Tomatoes chances are you won’t be find your next favorite film.

RATING: 2 out of 5