Dubby’s dvdiscussion: Mamma Meryl


Typecasting is the business in movies or plays of choosing a star for a part because the said star has done similar parts and knows them like the back of their hands. The opposite is to take Meryl Streep who plays some comedies (The Devil Wears Prada) but not musicals and hope like hell that they fit.

Streep for her first few minutes in Mamma Mia! seems awkward and more like a character out of a Mark Twain novel like Tom Sawyer where people go round wearing dungarees and forcing cheer into their parts. That said, do see Mamma Mia! because it’s a hoot and a musical based on the songs of ABBA. In fact everything in the movie is based on something else with the story coming from an old 1969 Gina Lollobrigida movie Buona Sera, Mrs Campbell and the choreography straight out of Bollywood, and the scenery comes from the beautiful Greek island where Mamma Mia! was filmed.

Says Pete Hammond, “A young girl, Sophie (Amanda Seyfried), on the eve of her wedding, has decided to find out who her real father and so she invites all three of her mother Donna’s (Meryl Streep) ex-loves to the wedding. With the arrival of Sam (Pierce Brosnan), Bill (Stellan Skarsgard) and Harry (Colin Firth), all hell breaks loose as Donna must not only deal with the impending nuptials but also the re-emergence into her life of three very different — and now older former flames. Helping her through the ordeal are her two best friends, Rosie (Julie Walters) and the seductive Tanya (Christine Baranski). All this, of course, is just an excuse to break out into song every five minute, with all of the major ABBA hits used to move the story along — or just stop it dead in its tracks.

With a few exceptions, the entire cast shines and delivers — beginning with Streep, who is simply a force of nature. She’s sensational and can she ever sing! Her big 11-o’clock-number The Winner Takes It All, which she belts out against the stunning scenery of Scopelos. Streep is the real deal — Hollywood’s real hidden singing and dancing queen. You just have to wonder why she hasn’t gotten more musical opportunities in film. Brosnan, acting-wise is wonderful. His musical numbers, while on key, exhibit a voice that probably isn’t going to top the charts anytime soon but you have to give him credit for swinging, er, singing for the fences. Despite his iffy pipes, he and Streep display such great chemistry, it would be nice to see them re-team somewhere down the line.

It’s a good-time movie with a refreshing lack of pretence and makes it one of the most purely entertaining musical events ever to hit a motion picture screen. If it’s a little disconcerting to see all these older stars belting out a Swedish pop group’s greatest hits, it’s also probably just what audiences living in these troubled times need. Our guess is you’ll want to line up and see it again the minute it ends.”

Adds Bret Fetzer, “Mamma Mia! is a rarity: A middle-aged love story. The story is really about Streep and the three guys (former James Bond Pierce Brosnan, former Mr Darcy Colin Firth, and Swedish star Stellan Skarsgard), as well as Donna’s best friends (Christine Baranski, best known from the TV show Cybill, and Julie Walters, Calendar Girls). It’s a romantic comedy aimed at the people who were around when all these songs were new, and that’s an age group Hollywood largely ignores. For that alone, Mamma Mia! deserves to find an audience.”