The random witterings of Jonathan Morris, writer.

Friday, 9 October 2009

Mamma Mia

Watched Mamma Mia! the movie last night. Thoughts.

It’s sort of half-brilliant and half-awful. The brilliant bits are from the stage show; the ingenious way the plot has been constructed so that the songs actually push the story forward and deliver big emotional moments – which is what ABBA did best, writing songs about heartbreak that made you want to sing along.

The awful half is everything else. Okay, so splitting scenes over various locations means the film looks scenic, but chopping out songs* – and chopping down songs to two verses and two choruses – seems to be missing a trick; on DVD at least, this film could easily have sustained a Rodgers And Hammerstein running time. Instead, for a musical, it’s incongruously brief.

The casting also seems to have been done by somebody on mad pills. Meryl Streep does an impression of Jennifer Saunders’ Meryl Streep impression. The girl’s okay, the boy’s played by Dominic Cockney, who has already made a name for himself as one of the most irritating young actors of his generation. Meryl’s friends are Leonard’s mum and Mrs Overall, ever-ready with her two soups.

But where it really goes to pot is with the men. I mean, good on Colin Darcy and Pierce Bond for attempting to sing, but their voices are about as good as... well, mine. No-one in the cast is a strong singer, and that’s the problem; soundtrack-wise, it’s bad karaoke. I mean, it doesn’t matter as no-one is listening, everyone is singing along, but I can’t help feeling these songs deserve to be sung by people who can actually hit notes.

* Whilst adding When All Is Said And Done to the end; not a bad song, but an odd choice for a wedding as the lyrics are all about splitting up.

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