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Mamma Mia! (SE)
DVD disk
Jan 14, 2009 By: Mathew Plale
Mamma Mia! (SE) order
Director:
Phyllida Lloyd

Actors:
Meryl Streep
Amanda Seyfried
Pierce Brosnan

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
In this adaptation of the hit Broadway musical, a Greek island serves as the stage for Meryl Streep, Amanda Seyfried, and dozens of others to belt out ABBA tunes.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
I’ve convinced myself that no one actually likes ABBA, and will willingly tap their toes to anything catchy, no matter who’s behind the rhythm. Knowing the stage version of Mamma Mia! is nearing its 3,000th performance and the film adaptation has grossed over a half-billion dollars worldwide, I consulted a fellow critic/fan with one question: How?

“It’s the ultimate ridiculous poppy fluff,” she said.

But she’s ripe for the pickin’: a female who…oh, hell, that’s about the only requirement here. That’s not sexist, just a point of fact. I’ve loved musicals and I’m Greek, but there isn’t a damn thing for me—a vocal opponent of Pierce Brosnan’s chest hair since ‘93—in the entire production.

The centerpiece of Mamma Mia!: The Movie is the wedding of Sophie Sheridan (Amanda Seyfried), daughter of hotel manager Donna (Meryl Streep, nominated for a Golden Globe based solely on her name), to Sky (The History Boys alum Dominic Cooper). And because a wedding isn’t nerve-wracking enough, she invites three men—Sam, Harry, and Bill—one of which, by the end of the movie, will be revealed as her father. Who will it be? Whoever takes part in the most musical numbers, probably.

And so for 109 minutes, the gaggle of guests (including a clever twist on the Greek Chorus) run around and flip through 23 songs in the Swedish pop group’s catalogue (that’s one every 4.7 minutes), from staple “Dancing Queen” and the manic “Voulez-Vous” to Streep-showcase “The Winner Takes It All” and the closing credits finale “Waterloo,” where Brosnan, Colin Firth, and Stellan Skarsgård don the open-chested, sequined bellbottoms.

The most curious scene is at Sophie’s bachelorette party, where Donna and her girlfriends (Christine Baranski, Julie Walters) cue up a CD of “Super Trouper” and the attendees break into hysterical shrieks. Are the islanders (super)fans of ABBA then? Are they aware they’re the largest such cover band not just in Greece, but in the world? It’s never mentioned, and, I guess, why would it be?

This is a musical, and thus there’s no room—especially with two dozen numbers—or need for logic. Director Phyllida Lloyd’s only goal in Mamma Mia! is to get the crowd’s toes a-tappin’. Were mine? Sure…but I blame the appletinis.
THE EXTRAS
Disc One:

Feature Commentary with Director Phyllida Lloyd: Lloyd comes off less energetic than you’d expect (considering the movie she’s discussing), but still supplies enough production stories for a listen from fans.

Sing-Along, which lets fans karaoke to their favorite songs in the film.

Deleted Musical Number: “The Name of the Game” (3:02), with Sophia singing to one of her potential fathers, Bill.

Disc Two:

Aside from housing the Digital Copy, Disc Two also contains:

Deleted Scenes (8:05): There are a handful here, with more on Sam, Harry, and Bill’s backstories, Sophie’s fiancé Sky, and Donna’s gal pals.

Outtakes (1:34) is a showcase for Streep.

The Making of Mamma Mia! (24:07): Divided into three parts, this piece has contributors—cast, crew, ABBA members—focusing on the “chick flick” aspect, the tasks of director Lloyd, musical director Martin Lowe, and choreographer Anthony Van Laast, (some location) shooting, and the giant cast.

Anatomy of a Musical Number (5:42): “Lay All Your Love On Me” is examined, with behind-the-scenes footage of rehearsals, studio recording, and filming.

Becoming a Singer (10:54) goes inside the recording studio with the actors (Streep, Skarsgård, Brosnan, et al.), who comment on the process and belt out some of the popular tunes.

Behind the Scenes with Amanda (4:12): Seyfried (who plays Sophie) is the subject here, with BTS footage of the “dancing queen” performing a secret handshake, dropping a fork on the floor, and not breaking out into leprosy.

On Location in Greece (4:05) has crew members discussing shooting in the beautiful country, as well as the ouzo ration on the cast.

A Look Inside Mamma Mia! (2:41) takes a look at the phenomena known as ABBA using interviews and clips.

We also get the “Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!” Music Video and a quick piece on the Björn Ulvaeus Cameo.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
Judging by the hundreds of millions of dollars the show and film have brought in, there's obviously an audience for Mamma Mia!. And that audience will never grow tired of the Sing-Along special feature, so...ya know, have a ball.
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