OK, I admit it. When I was younger, I liked Abba. I had posters on my bedroom wall and all, until Agnetha got displaced by Princess Leia in 1977. (Yeah, I liked the music too. It wasn't just her butt. I was twelve, OK?) And I'm quite partial to Bollywood movies. I like the visual style and the sheer exuberance of the dance sequences. So I figured what the hell, let's give Mamma Mia a shot. Even if it has got Meryl bloody Streep in it. (She was good in Sophie's Choice, but I've found it almost impossible to watch her in anything else since.) It looks like a Western Bollywood movie, so it has to be worth a look.
Oh dear. Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear.
The production design is brilliant, and I bet it was a hell of a lot of fun to make, but the cast absolutely butcher the music. They're actors, not singers, and it shows, painfully. They can't dance either, and the choreography is mostly uninspired anyway. (Though admittedly, as I got drunker, the dance numbers got funnier.) Julie Walters singing Chiquitita while wiping Meryl Streep's nose is something I wish I could erase from my memory. I used to love that song. Now it's tainted. Does Your Mother Know has become a MILF song, and now makes me faintly nauseous, And please, God, I never want to see Meryl Streep in dungarees playing air guitar ever, ever, ever again.
As forthe script and the story, well, let's just just say that I'm male, middle-aged and heterosexual, and it wasn't written with me in mind. I mean, just look at the casting. Colin "Mr Darcy" Firth and Pierce "007" Brosnan, all of whom spend pretty much the entire movie in beachwear. And yes, ladies, they both end up in wet white shirts. That kinda tells you who they expect in the audience.
I can imagine it'd be a lot of fun going to see it as the token straight guy with a bunch of female and gay friends. Start off with some outrageously priced cocktails in a suitable club, preferably something that looks like one of Carmen Miranda's hats, with loads of fruit and umbrellas, and get right royally ripped. Somewhere along the line, let yourself be persuaded to be assaulted with eyeliner and lipstick, and hope the photos don't end up on Flickr. Then treat it as a Rocky Horror type singalong movie, and end the night at a drag show or getting even more smashed with a DVD of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. They do Abba properly. (Just remember to take the eyeliner off before you go to work the next day, guys. Listen to the voice of experience here.)
Under any other circumstances, though, I can't imagine myself ever watching Mamma Mia again. But I have to confess, I watched it through to the cheesy end,despite everything. Even the credits. Draw whatever conclusions you like from that. But it's worth sticking with it just to watch Meryl Streep delivering the most emotional and heartfelt performance of The Winner Takes It All you will ever see. Damn. I wish I hadn't just admitted that in public. Oh well...