Mamma Mia! (2008)

mama mia

“Somebody up there has got it in for me. I bet it’s my mother.”

The Scoop: 2008 PG-13, directed by Phyllida Lloyd and starring Amanda Seyfried, Pierce Brosnan, and Meryl Streep

Tagline: Take a trip down the aisle you’ll never forget

Summary Capsule: A young girl invites all three of her possible fathers to her wedding.

Lissa’s rating: Dot dot dot…

Lissa’s review: Dear Hollywood,
I know other critics have ranted about this, but you don’t really seem to be paying attention. Would you get off your misogynistic butts and make more movies like this, geared at women? We have money, and we’ll pay to see them. Or at least buy them on DVD. We are paying to see them — look how well Mamma Mia! has been doing at the box office.

It’s not that women like more “intelligent” movies than men. Sure, I might mock the latest blow-em-up-smash-em-up guy flick, but it’s not like the characters in most romantic comedies have any more brains. It’s just, well, we like different movies a lot of times. And although we might enjoy seeing really hot guys without their shirts on, we like seeing women on the screen. Real women, not just the kinds you think should be attractive. Women with talent and faces you can remember, not just sticks sporting boobs and fancy clothes.

So please, please, please… let’s remember that half the population has two X chromosomes, okay?


If you can’t tell from the above letter, I enjoyed Mamma Mia!. A lot. Sure, this shouldn’t be a shock, given that it’s a musical and I love musicals. But judging by what Hollywood puts out these days, apparently it is.

Mamma Mia! is a pretty simple story. Sophie (an adorable Amanda Seyfried) is getting married to the love of her life Sky (Dominic Cooper, who I finally realize I recognized from History Boys). But she wants her father to be there. The only problem is, there are three possible candidates — Sam (Pierce Brosnan), Harry (Colin Firth), and Bill (Stellan Skarsgård). Rather than asking her mother, Sophie decides to invite all three to her wedding. Naturally, despite (or maybe because — I’d take the excuse) the wedding being held on a remote Greek island, all three of them come. Hijinks ensue.

The story is totally predictable, yes, especially as it continues to unfold. I have to admit, Mamma Mia! isn’t a cinematic piece of high-minded art. In fact, it took me a little bit to get into it because some of the dialogue is a bit hokey, especially when they’re about to sing a song. Meryl Streep, who plays Donna (Sophie’s mother and the center of the movie), is the absolute queen of overacting, with her court of Julie Walters and Christine Baranski providing full, uninhibited backup. Fortunately, they’re clearly having fun with it, which Pierce Brosnan doesn’t seem to be able to completely let go and do. (Although Colin Firth completely cracked me up.)

Yeah, technically it’s not a great movie. But you know how sometime heart actually does make up for a lot of shortcomings? This is one of those times. There are a TON of shortcomings in Mamma Mia!, but I’ve been singing ABBA songs for the past four days now and grinning every time I think of the Dancing Queen scene. And what I loved most are the women in it. It was so nice to see a movie where the women pretty much carried it, and even better, that was a true ode to female friendship.

The one thing I would say is that when you see it, you will walk out of it singing, because it’s ABBA. But I’m betting that the soundtrack to the movie isn’t so great without the visuals. The people in this movie are actors first, singers second, and unlike Moulin Rouge! or even Chicago, it really shows. Seriously, while I enjoyed the performances, I really felt like they could have found some better singers. Oh well.

I can completely see why theaters are going to do the sing along versions, and they should, because the ads are right when they say you’ll want to sing along with the music. It’s a fun movie, and it’s definitely a pick-me-up. Just don’t be too critical when you go.

Kyle’s rating: I came for the Brosnan, I stayed for the ABBA! (who could’ve guessed?)

Kyle’s review: Coming into the summer of ’08, Mamma Mia! was a film I was simultaneously intrigued and repulsed by. By pure chance years ago, involving getting the ABBA song “Dancing Queen” in my head and deciding it worth spending $10 on a CD of their greatest hits to get it out again, I became an admirer of ABBA. I wasn’t about to venture any further into their discography, nor was I in any kind of hurry to rent Muriel’s Wedding or see the ‘Mamma Mia!’ show in Las Vegas. But what I heard of them, I liked.

And my love for Pierce Brosnan should be obvious, if you’ve read any of my reviews of James Bond films; even the ones not starring Brosnan as Bond. If you’re new here, let me just spell it out: Pierce Brosnan rules and can seemingly do no wrong in my eyes. And that’s that.

So when I heard Pierce Brosnan was joining the cast of some other people I’ve vaguely heard of before (Meryl Streep?) for a musical adaptation of ABBA songs I was like “where do I sign up to be an assistant to the key grip? This is some of the best news I have ever heard IN MY LIFE.”

Then I saw the film poster. And my enthusiasm for the film fell flat onto the popcorn-strewn floor.

Because I HATE Kate Hudson. I’m not entirely sure why. But I really, really do.

(please keep reading: I already know what you’re probably thinking at this point and yes, it does resolve itself by the end)

As I was saying: Hate the Kate (Hudson). Which is strange, because she was phenomenal in Almost Famous. But somewhere, somehow, she squandered all the good will I held for her and became an actress whose participation in a project all but guaranteed my immediate disinterest. I guess her romantic comedies just weren’t my “cup of tea,” and I refuse to believe my otherwise trustworthy friend’s belief that The Skeleton Key is actually a really great horror film.

In spite of it all, however, I remained at least a little intrigued. Pierce Brosnan and a cast of other people who seemed appropriately cast singing the hits of ABBA? In an otherwise and by all accounts fun little bit of popcorn fluff that was a great stage hit and almost certainly in the right hands for cinematic silver, if not outright gold? How could I allow Kate Hudson to ruin what might be a really fun musical comedy experience for me?

Answer: I simply could not. I wouldn’t be living up to the ‘life of regret-free adventure’ that Pierce Brosnan’s depiction of James Bond instilled within me throughout those teenage years when I desperately needed a role model to emulate, and Pierce Brosnan came through then. Once again, he would come through, lighting the path for me in my time of philosophical need. Enjoy a film on its own strengths but also on the inclusion of some of your favorite elements, and no matter what, you’ll get your ticket price’s worth of enjoyment.

Unless you consider me a complete idiot, you can guess what happened at some point. For me, I think it was waiting to get a haircut at a local salon and reading every magazine available, and coming across an article about Amanda Seyfried. Whom I “love,” as should/does every Veronica Mars fan and most Mean Girls aficionados as well. The important piece of that particular article was the second or third sentence, which described Seyfried as being very excited and only slightly intimidated to have been given the leading role in the Mamma Mia! film adaptation.

Wait, what? What? What!

Imagine my joyous run to the local movie theater, accompanied in my mind by swirling symphonic cues, as I entered the lobby and stared just a little closer at the Mamma Mia! movie poster. That wasn’t Kate Hudson at all: it was Amanda Seyfried.

Happy day! Happy happy happy day! Thank you, karmic forces in the universe! I’M SO HAPPY!!!!!

After that summer-changing realization, all the other details seem almost secondary. I forget to go opening weekend, but it worked out perfectly because the weekend I took a couple girls with me, my ticket-taking friend let us all in for free AND let us sneak into a bunch of movies the rest of the day. And the pizza we bought when we were all finally sick of movies was one of the best downtown pizzas I’ve ever had. Hooray!

Oh, yeah: Mamma Mia! is pretty good. If you know any ABBA songs, imagine it as a film and you can imagine this movie. So you know, right now this very minute, whether you would want to sit through it or would rather die than willingly choose to see it. I hope that helps!

Yeah. This so happened at my bachelorette party.
Yeah. This so happened at my bachelorette party.


  • Benny Andersson (piano player for ABBA) on the island.
  • Butt tattoos!
  • The “Bill” buckle.
  • Dot dot dot… hehehehehe.
  • Some songs fit better than others.
  • I like the Greek chorus.
  • Dancing in flippers looks hard.
  • Greece is gorgeous.
  • Is It Worth Staying Through End Credits? You must stay till the end of Waterloo. Trust me on this.

Groovy Quotes

Donna: Somebody up there has got it in for me. I bet it’s my mother.

Donna: What are you doing here?
Bill: I’m writing a travel piece.
Harry Bright: I took a spontaneous holiday.
Sam Carmichael: I thought I’d drop in and say hi.

Tanya: You probably don’t recognize me.
Rosie: Not with all that plastic surgery.

Harry Bright: What’s the father of the bride usually do at these things?
Tanya: Pay.

Donna: The thing about the toilet…if it doesn’t flush right away, then go and come back and it’ll…nothing works around here except for me.

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