Saturday, 21 February 2009

Movie review: Mamma Mia!

Oh dear, where to begin?

The Sparkly One and I watched Mamma Mia! tonight, and I will say right now that there was a certain amount of "under sufferance" on my part, but there was absolutely no ill will. After all, it's a spectacularly successful film (the most successful Hollywood film musical ever, the most successful British-made film and the highest grossing film of all time in the UK), and I was intrigued to see why. I'll try anything once, with the usual nod to Sir Thomas Beecham.

Besides, I couldn't find Hellboy 2 in Blockbuster.

Well, what a revelation. Within five minutes and 22 seconds, the shrieking buddy-greeting of the girls had become wearisome, and it didn't get any better. That the three women greeted each other in the same screechy fashion didn't provide amusing synchronicity, it just rankled. No one acts like that. Not even in movies. Not even in musical movies.

Now, I've no problem with the suspension of disbelief, with lightweight films, and I've certainly no problem with jukebox musicals, but there was just nothing to this one. It was trite and saccharin, the characters were blander than bland and thinner than thin. All of which is absolutely fine in a musical film, because the music and the dancing are the thing, and the music of ABBA is a fine thing indeed.

But the casting was way, way off! Casting fantastic, talented actors that can't sing or dance in a movie that requires them to sing and dance reduces the whole £28 million production to ear-blistering drunken karaoke. Pierce Brosnan's attempts at singing has been commented upon at length, but I do not rate any of the leading men's voices. Christine Baranski is a wonderful actress, but clearly not at home dancing on screen. And that awful, hammy over-acting that's required of stage performances where the audience is miles away from the performers, but not in movies where cameras, shooting and editing make subtlety the thing!

Oh yes, and the dance numbers were lacklustre, unexciting, small-scale, unimaginative. Or perhaps my heart had given up by that point. I found the routines in Ice Age 2 more engaging.

Two high points included the dancing-in-fins sequence, the best of the ensemble pieces, and one laugh-out-loud moment involving Stellan SkarsgÄrd's bottom. And that's it, in a movie that was trumpeted in the press as an anecdote to credit crunch misery, the feel-good hit of the year.

Can I have my £28 million back, please?

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