Ig­nore the odd dodgy vo­cal and you’ll be taken in by this lush mu­si­cal, writes

MAMMA MIA! Di­rected by Phyl­l­ida Lloyd. Star­ring Meryl Streep, Pierce Bros­nan, Colin Firth, Stel­lan Skars­gård, Julie Wal­ters, Do­minic Cooper, Amanda Seyfried, Chris­tine Baran­ski

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Film -

gen re­lease, 108 min THE OUT­LINE of Mamma Mia! bears an un­canny re­sem­blance to Buona Sera, Mrs Camp­bell (1968), an amus­ing com­edy star­ring Gina Lol­lo­b­rigida as an Ital­ian who had wartime flings with three US ser­vice­men, told each that he was the fa­ther of her daugh­ter, and col­lected child main­te­nance from them for 20 years, un­til they re­turned to Italy for a re­union.

Mamma Mia! stars Meryl Streep as Donna, who runs a small ho­tel on a Greek is­land where her daugh­ter So­phie (Amanda

PG cert,


Seyfried) is about to marry Sky (Do­minic Cooper). Read­ing Donna’s di­aries from 20 years ear­lier, So­phie de­cides that her fa­ther must be one of three lovers Donna had at the time.

She in­vites all three to her wed­ding, in the hope that spend­ing time with them will pro­vide vi­tal clues to her parent­age.

Sam (Pierce Bros­nan) is a di­vorced New York ar­chi­tect. Bill (Stel­lan Skars­gård) is a Swedish ad­ven­turer who chron­i­cles his trav­els in pop­u­lar books. And Harry (Colin Firth) is an up­tight Lon­don banker so stuffy that he asks if there’s a trouser press in the goat house the three men have to share.

For adult gen­der bal­ance, Julie Wal­ters and Chris­tine Baran­ski play man-hun­gry Rosie and mul­ti­ple di­vorcee Tanya, who were the back­ing singers in Donna’s old mu­si­cal trio, Donna and the Dy­namos. The in­dige­nous in­hab­i­tants of the is­land are pe­riph­eral be­yond serv­ing as a Greek cho­rus in the many songand-dance num­bers that are the movie’s rai­son d’etre.

The sound­track is formed as a com­pi­la­tion of Abba’s great­est hits, with the lyrics wo­ven to­gether to ad­vance the slen­der sto­ry­line. In the open­ing num­ber, So­phie trills I Have a Dream as she sends wed­ding in­vites to her po­ten­tial fa­thers. Tanya sings Does Your Mother Know? as she wards off a much younger man. Rosie de­liv­ers Take a Chance on Me when she makes ad­vances on her ob­ject of de­sire.

It is Donna who gets to per­form most of the songs, and Streep, a diva in dun­ga­rees and a straw hat, reaf­firms the singing abil­ity she demon­strated in Post­cards from the Edge and A Prairie Home Com­pan­ion. There is, ap­par­ently, no limit to Streep’s tal­ent, and her ef­fer­ves­cent per­for­mance is the beat­ing heart of Mamma Mia!

As all good mu­si­cals ought to do, this one rev­els in the joy of per­for­mance. The most elab­o­rate dance num­bers – set to Danc­ing Queen, Voulez-Vous and Lay All Your Love on Me – are chore­ographed with ter­rific ex­u­ber­ance and an in­fec­tious sense of fun.

How­ever, di­rec­tor Phyl­l­ida Lloyd, who has been with the show since it was first staged, is too ea­ger to dis­guise its the­atri­cal ori­gins by sub­ject­ing the danc­ing to ex­ces­sive MTV-paced edit­ing. As the gifted Bob Fosse proved in

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