MAMMA MIA! employs the hit songs of famed pop group ABBA to tell the story of Sophie Sheridan, a young girl who hopes to discover the identity of her father. On the eve of her wedding, she brings three men from her mother Donna’s past back to the Greek island they visited over two decades ago. It was here that the story began, well not began, but was played out for the first time. The story began with British Judy Craymer who in 1995 was working with Tim Rice on Chess in collaboration with Björn Ulvaeus (at the 5th Anniversary of Mama Mia on Broadway 10/18/06) and Benny Andersson (orginal members of ABBA); she had an idea to produce a play using ABBA songs, as she was a huge fan and knew there was a story that could be weaved around these songs. Björn and Benny were nervous, they were very protective of their work, soon their fears were put to rest.She commission Catherine Johnson to write a screenplay about love, loss and triumph. When the script was finished tapped Phyllida Lloyd to direct the piece. Three strong women were behind the success of this musical about three strong women. Mama Mia opened on April 6th 1999 at prestigious Prince Edward Theatre in London’s West End. October 2001 heralded the Broadway premiere at The Winter Garden Theatre. And it was at that time that I saw the musical, it was just the life that NYC needed after the tragedy that befell the City the month before. – A few months back I photographed the Lincoln Center Salutes Meryl Streep event. At the time I had no idea who this bloke was, but now that I have seen the movie I know why he was at the event. Actor Stellan Skarsgard [Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) has sent wedding invitations to the three men who might be her dad: Bill (Stellan Skarsgard), Sam (Pierce Brosnan) and Harry (Colin Firth)] Meryl Streep seems to channel her inner silliness; hitting every note effortlessly, with an appealingly light pop voice, she prances through the movie as if ever-so-slightly tipsy. She twists her lines into appealing little knots, and does a bit of comic business involving a cordless drill that’s almost a movie in itself, and this is why the film is so great, it’s not to be taken seriously, it’s trivial, fun, lighthearted and totally Streep. And when was the last time you heard an audience clap at the end of a song in a movie, ok that’s right Dreamgirls, well they did it tonight too, but I’m not going to tell you which song, you will just have to see it for yourself.
The downside of the movie: OK, let’s get this out of the way: Streep is 20 years too old for this role. Any attempt to put the characters’ histories into a coherent time frame will result in a splitting headache and I did spend a good part of the movie trying to figure out what age Meryl is supposed to be, finally the daughter states her age and I thought, THAT’S RIGHT!! This is a movie and we are supposed to suspend our sense of reality. My advice: Just roll with it.
But then again Meryl’s real daughter Mamie Gummer born 8/3/1983, so it could happen? Sassy little thing isn’t she. Here she is at the Film Society event I mentioned, it was in April 2008

Christine Baranski [56 years old, so at least her age is in context with Meryl Streep, because had they cast say Uma Thurman or that bitch Jennifer Aniston, well it would be way off [see 5/17 for reference why the biotch comment] plays one of Donna’s best friends. She was amazing, and in the words of the Swedish super group, she can dance, she can jive, she’s having the time of her life and it shows in this movie. Her scenes are delicious, and girl Ms Baranski can kick as high as a Rockette. Currently she can be seen on Broadway in Boeing-Boeing. I took this shot at the Tony Awards last month in NYC.

One more downside, Pierce Bronson was miscast, but who cares, he’s so handsome. Ironically one of the songs he sings is SOS, and I just wanted to laugh when he sang that line.

The Trailer

I doubt this movie in the long run effects the Broadway run of Mama Mia, but I do think the timing of the touring show coming to Philly the same week as the movie opens might have some effect on the ticket sales. But I hope not. 7/18 – 7/27 at the Academy

AND don’t forget to go see the PHILADELPHIA INTERNATIONAL GAY & LESBIAN FILM FESTIVAL as it winds down next Tuesday, I will be posting right through the weekend as I have a lot to say. Also subscribe to my blog and everytime I update it you will be notified in your mailbox between 9AM & 11:59AM so you won’t miss a thing. Then if it sounds like something you want to read, you just click on the link. (I’m lying, I want you to click on the link whether you care or not – LOL) Thanks HughE