Mamma Mia! The Movie

A Universal (in U.S.)/United Intl. Pictures (in U.K.) release of a Universal Studios, Littlestar, Playtone production. Produced by Judy Craymer, Gary Goetzman. Executive producers, Benny Andersson, Bjorn Ulvaeus, Rita Wilson, Tom Hanks, Mark Huffam. Directed by Phyllida Lloyd. Screenplay, Catherine Johnson, based the original musical book by Johnson, originally conceived by Judy Craymer, based on the songs of Abba.

Donna - Meryl Streep

Sam - Pierce Brosnan

Harry - Colin Firth

Bill - Stellan Skarsgard

Rosie - Julie Walters

Sky - Dominic Cooper

Sophie - Amanda Seyfried

Tanya - Christine Baranski

Take a Chance on Me” may be one of its most celebrated songs, but little risk is actually involved in “Mamma Mia! The Movie,” a predictably glossy screen adaptation of the Abba-scored musical. The pic uses virtually the same creative team behind the stage original -- topped by helmer Phyllida Lloyd, making her film bow -- but subs in bigscreen names like Meryl Streep and Pierce Brosnan for the leads and adds lush Greek exteriors. But the island-set tale of a young bride-to-be looking for dad offers little else that differs from the stage version and, since its grosses have exceeded $2 billion, why should it? To borrow another song title, Universal should reap reasonable “Money, Money, Money” in all territories.


The tuner shares a basic plot with the lesser-known 1968 Gina Lollobrigida starrer “Buona Sera, Mrs. Campbell,” so offers a variation of the recent screen-to-stage-to-screen-again works as “The Producers” and “Hairspray.” One difference is the highly lucrative addition of a soundtrack featuring several No. 1 hits by one of the most profitable music acts in history. With each song inserted to capture a certain moment or emotion in the script, and with the script itself stretched to encompass enough songs to fit the perfect best-of compilation, the storyline plays out more like an oversized Abba promotional vehicle than a fully dramatic piece.


The opening scenes offer a preview of the over-polished, glitzy texture used throughout, as a series of moonlit postcard images introduce us to the Greek island where Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) is set to marry heartthrob Sky (Dominic Cooper).


Having never known the identity of her father, Sophie decides to invite three suspects --suave architect divorcee Sam (Pierce Brosnan), lonely but loaded investment banker Harry (Colin Firth), and roughshod world traveler Bill (Stellan Skarsgard). But Sophie doesn’t give warning to her ex-swinger mother Donna (Meryl Streep), who now runs a bed and breakfast atop the island.


Quid pro quo plays on for much of the pic’s first half, as the slightly bitter Donna -- accompanied by zany friends Rosie (Julie Walters) and Tanya (Christine Baranski) -- attends to wedding preparations while reminiscing about the good old days when her trio, Donna and the Dynamos, rocked the scene. Meanwhile, Sophie plays an unending game of “My Three Dads” as she hops from one protective fatherly embrace to the other, unable to determine who’s the real one, and unwilling to confess her hidden agenda to Mom.


A prolonged, dance-heavy centerpiece features simultaneous bachelor and bachelorette parties where the entire cast, and all the subplots (including Donna’s re-emerging interest in Sam), converge in the type of chorus-line bonanza usually timed to wrap the first act with a bang. Yet on film, the scenes play more like “MTV Grind” than Busby Berkeley, with a roving camera breaking up the action into fast-cut singles.


The final reels are devoted to the wedding, set atop a dreamy seaside cliff (covered in one too many helicopter shots). After the truth is revealed, in what amounts to the film’s lengthiest dialogue sequence, the music kicks in for an extended showstopping finale that runs tirelessly through the stretched-out closing credits.


The singing-and-dancing work for the basic excitement and energy of a li

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