Fun fact, ABBA has sold over 380 million records… Their music is pretty well liked. I love when popular music is adapted to conceptualized story form. This was a fun attempt, but certainly nothing game changing. I was one of the few kids in the class who had never seen Mamma Mia all the way through until today. Gut reaction? I still don’t know. I think the film was horribly miscast, but the actors themselves have enough talent that it ultimately wasn’t too big a deal. I thought the supporting characters stole the show and were far more musically talented than the leads, but that being said, Seyfried can really sing.
The direction of the numbers were sometimes quite captivating and other times just so over-the-top and nauseating that I couldn’t get into it. BUT, damn they put you in a good mood. I attribute that partly to the beauty of the scenery, the likability of the cast, and the brilliance of the ABBA tunes.
In terms of this being a feminist film in the modern wave? I’m torn. This was a female dominated production. Director, writer, producers, and stars are all female and the men are presented as the objects of the “gaze.” The women revel in their own sexual and emotional freedom and ability to just be themselves, using the male gaze for fun and pleasure. But, it didn’t really break new ground. The female characters are certainly strong and charismatic, but what I think worked is that fact that the story itself doesn’t dwell on the male/female power issues. The men are enjoying the chaos just as much as the women. The decisions almost always end up being made by the women, which is a solid step forward for cinematic stories. Seyfried called off the wedding, Streep ultimately takes the leap of faith for marriage, and the best friends find their men.
The script itself is pretty weak. The dialogue could have been a lot stronger, but the musical numbers were so fun I didn’t care. The music speaks for the characters far louder than their words. It was a little campy at times, but again, this was a feel good movie so it’s irrelevant. Finally, THIS is one of the few stories that is probably better suited for the stage. For such an emotionally intertwined story, locking the characters to the small confines of a stage actually does a large amount of justice to the development of everyone. That being said, the film took advantage of its landscape and had a lot of fun with the extra space. This really isn’t a brilliant film or musical adaptation. It’s just fun and allows people to get lost in the world of the music and the greek island where the women run the show as bachelorettes pondering their independence. I have a feeling we will see a remake of this in our lifetime, my only hope is they push the drama and enhance the script!
And yes, I am listening to the soundtrack as I write this post… this music is so good it’s addicting.