Thursday, July 24, 2008


Musical comedy

A married couple, Agnetha Fältskog and Björn Ulvaeus, went for a holiday on the island of Cyprus with friends and fellow singers Benny Andersson and Anni-Frid Lyngstad. Just for fun they began singing together on the beach and were invited to perform as a group for the United Nations troops stationed there. They came up with the idea of having the group’s name as an acronym of their first names: Agnetha, Björn, Benny and Anni-Frid. And so ABBA was born and their songs went on to top the charts worldwide from the mid-1970s to the early 1980s.

Meryl Streep: single mother Donna Sheridan, owner of a small B&B
Amanda Seyfried: her 20-year-old daughter Sophie
Pierce Brosnan: businessman Sam Carmichael
Colin Firth: British banker Harry 'Headbanger' Bright
Stellan Skarsgård: Swedish adventurer and author Bill Andersen
Dominic Cooper: Sophie’s fiancé Sky
Julie Walters: Donna’s longtime friend Rosie, a cookbook author
Christine Baranski: another of Donna’s friends rich three-time divorcée Tanya

Anyone who has ever hummed one of the ABBA’s big hits will revel in hearing them sung amid the glorious setting of a lovely Greek island. Someone has wisely chosen to not change the musical arrangement from the original hits so they sound right. The additional songs first heard during the stage performance of Mamma Mia! fit in beautifully, not surprising given that Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus collaborated to write them. Unlike some musicals where the songs seem to come from out of nowhere, these all meld in as part of the story narrative.

Given that the main reason everyone shows up is to celebrate a marriage, it is not surprising there’s a lot of joy and happiness throughout the movie. And some funny bits along the way.

Although Meryl Streep started her career as a singer, I cannot recall any previous role in which she sang. Consequently her singing talent came to me as a surprise. Perhaps you could quibble about the cast selection, that there are younger actors\actresses around, that there are better singers. Fine. But that doesn’t take away from the fact the ones in the movie do a heckuva job and that’s enough for me.

The dance numbers are well staged with unbounded energy, the costumes are great, the acting uniformly excellent. In short, it’s a must-see movie and a lot of fun.

for some sex-related comments.

 Donna attempts to repair a broken shutter using a cordless drill. Trouble is she’s forgotten to put a bit in the chuck.
 While trying to fix the crack in the ceramic floor Donna snaps off the end of the tube of caulking. Moments later when she stands up and points to something with the caulking gun, the white end of the tube has been magically restored.

Stick around for the end credits, it’s worthwhile.

By the way it’s rare that I plan to go see a movie for a second time. This is one of them.

1 comment:

Pat Wood said...

I loved the movie. Jon loved it too. We had not seen the stage play so the story was new to us. I found the story worked at the wonderful location it was filmed. I went from one memory from the late 70's to another as each song was performed. I sung along (to myself) and felt like dancing. A great feel-good summer movie and I, too, will see it again.