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Top Ten Reasons to See Mamma Mia!

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10. It’s the silliest movie — silly without being downright stupid or offensive or bad — you’ll see this year. Musicals always require an extra suspension of disbelief, movie musicals even moreso than stage musicals. For the first half-hour of this movie, every time someone bursts into song you have to push past that mental barrier that says, “No, this isn’t happening.” But it is, and eventually you just accept and embrace it.

9. It’s on a GREEK ISLAND. You could forgive this movie a lot just for the fun of looking at the scenery.

8. Apart from all the well-known ABBA hits (more on those later), it features my favourite little-known ABBA song, “Our Last Summer,” which was not a huge hit back in the day and never seems to get played on the oldies stations or put on ABBA compilations. It’s a sweet, poignant little song about a long-lost summer love, and it’s haunted me for years. It was great to see it front and centre in this movie, and Colin Firth did a nice job singing it.

7. Speaking of sweet, poignant songs, I defy ANY mom who has a daughter (or maybe even any parent who has a child) not to tear up during the song “Slipping Through My Fingers All the Time,” which Meryl Streep’s character sings while helping her daughter dress for her wedding. Someone told me this was a song written just for the musical, not an ABBA original — and though it starts with the image of a little girl starting off to school, it certainly has that older, wiser, later-in-life feel that makes it believable as a song a parent could sing on her daughter’s wedding day. But in fact it is, like “Our Last Summer” an ABBA oldie that just wasn’t a huge hit at the time.  It was recorded back in 81, and was written about Bjorn and Agnetha’s daugther, who was 5 at the time (at least, if Wikipedia can be trusted).

6. Speaking of Meryl Streep, let’s address the issue of her casting in this movie. She’s ridiculously too old for the role she’s playing — Donna should be a woman in her early 40s, judging by the storyline. Streep, the actresses who play her two best friends, and two of the three actors who play her old boyfriends are all at least 15 years too old for their roles, and they look it. And why would you cast a woman best known as a serious dramatic actress in a lightweight musical that doesn’t require serious acting chops, but needs a good singer and comic actress? Casing Meryl Streep as Donna is ridiculous on every level — but it works. Yeah, the age difference is annoying, but at least if a Hollywood actress is going to be the wrong age for the part she’s playing, it’s cool that she’s too OLD rather than too young — how often does that happen? And Meryl Streep’s singing voice is surprisingly good.

5. All the cast seem to be having a lot of fun. They may have all hated each other and been bickering the whole time — who knows? — but it sure looks like they were having a blast. I can’t wait to see the DVD extras for this when it comes out.

4. If you go see this movie, you will be stuck with ABBA earworms for days afterwards. And I don’t say that like it’s a bad thing. I have no shame about having liked ABBA back in the day and I still like them now.

3. This movie unabashedly celebrates middle-aged female sexuality, which is great. Watching Christine Baranski’s performance of “Does Your Mother Know?” (a completely ridiculous set piece that has nothing to do with the plot of the movie but is obviously there JUST so she can knock ’em dead with this song) is a triumph for the menopausal woman’s sense of her own feminine power, and you gotta like that.

2. It’s also a celebration of female friendship and female fun. The best big musical number in the whole thing is “Dancing Queen” (which is also the point at which I stopped resisting the whole musical concept and just caved and accepted it), when Donna and her friends, joined by every woman on the island, throw off duty and responsibility and go exuberantly dancing down to the sea to the strains of the catchiest tune EVER. You’d have to be the world’s biggest grump (or, like, some kind of big film critic or sometihng) not to be having fun by this point.

And … the number one reason to love Mamma Mia! …

1. He can’t sing — in fact, he actually looks like he’s in pain when he tries — and he butchers the two solos the plot requires him to sing … but I couldn’t bring myself to find it anything but charming. Pierce Brosnan (at 55 — again, too old for the role, but I’ve stopped caring) is as hot as ever. I’ve been in love with him since Remington Steele and some things never change.

I’ve seen this movie twice this summer — the second time taking Emma, which made it a real tearfest when we got to the tender mother/daughter song — and  now that the singalong version is here I’m open to a third visit (make me an offer!). When it comes out on DVD I’ll be buying it with the full intention of hosting a singalong Mamma Mia! party for a bunch of sexy, empowered middle-aged women who don’t mind admitting they like ABBA (in other words, most of my friends). Play your cards right and you might get on the invite list … if not, lay aside your foolish pride and go see the silliest movie of the summer while it’s still in theatres.

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14 thoughts on “Top Ten Reasons to See Mamma Mia!

  1. If you invited me to your Mama Mia bash, I would buy a plane ticket for the event! 🙂

  2. I just may hold you to that…

  3. Can I come (even though I’m part boy?)

  4. Finally, someone who agrees with me! Thank you! Most people I know have made fun of it and me. I was singing and humming for days. I saw this movie with 2 friends and my 14 year old daughter and her friend (they sat far away from us…)and I loved it, was moved by it, laughed and cried. I still saw the little ridiculous things – the age of Meryl, Colin, Pierce, and what’s his name, the campy singing efforts,etc. but it all worked! … I have never felt so entertained watching a movie in a long, long time. I love it when I hear a song from when I was growing up. It always leaves me feeling a little wistful, a little homesick for my younger days. (BTW, Trudy, my 43rd was on the 2nd, so we are exactly the same age)

    So, if you have a party, I make a mean batch of dry wings and my salsa is second to none…they are the only two things I brag about! Just provide napkins for all…

  5. I agree 100% with your number 1 reason. 🙂

    Two of my favorite moments of the movie were… a) Overhearing what you whispered to Emma when “Slipping Through My Fingers All The Time” came on.
    b) Meryl singing “The Winner Takes It All.” I was chewing on my female heart watching her sing that to Sam. (I had flashes back to “Out Of Africa” and the movie she did with Robert Redford, and flashes of “Sophie’s Choice” where she had to actually make the choice the movie was named for. I was so upset during that part, that I had to turn off the movie, and have yet to watch it to this day.) When Meryl sang, “The Winner Takes It All”…I absolutely knew why she got the part.

  6. I just took my daughter to see the musical version when it was in town. This was my third time to see it on stage and I still cry at “Slipping through my fingers.”

    I really want to see the movie!

  7. I loved the film – I went with work colleagues and we all laughed until we cried. I so want the DVD.

    Actually I so want to go to your party. If I start swimming now I could be your side of the Pond by Christmas I reckon 🙂

  8. I think I’m going to see it a third time … the singalong version is now here and some of my friends want to go sing along …

  9. I loved this movie too – I noticed not only were the actors too old for the parts, but also, there was some confusion as to what decade was “20 years ago…” I very strongly remember the late 1980s – that was my coming of age time, I was born in 69, the 80’s was “my time.” Some of Meryl and Sam’s pictures looked like they were from 1973, not 1988. That guitar looked like it was from the 60’s Flower Power Days.

    Then I remembered there was a girl in my high school class totally obsessed with the 60’s; she wore John Lennon glasses and peace symbols…so I figured…okay, maybe Meryl was that girl I went to school with. LOL

    I loved it, loved it, loved it – and yes, I’m going to buy it….and I agree, Pierce can’t sing, but I’d love to have him sing SOS to me ANY TIME…..

  10. I meant DONNA and Sam’s or Meryl & Pierce’s pictures.

  11. Yes, I agree about the old pictures being confused as to the date as well. Actually, I think that song I like so much,”Our Last Summer” contributes to the confusion, because it has that line “It was the age of Flower Power.” Which I guess, when ABBA wrote the song in the late 70s/early 80s, made sense — their teenage romances would have been back in the 60s. But seeing those images in a movie set in the present just confuses it (I was born in 65, so I too think of the 80s as my era of “young love,” etc).

    The song I’d love Pierce to sing to me is “When All is Said and Done,” the one he sings at the end of the movie (not in the stage musical). Ironically it was originally written as a song about a break-up, but with a few lyric changes for the movie it works really well as a wedding song.

  12. I thought it was a brilliant film!
    It shouldn’t have worked, but it did!
    I wasn’t going to go and see it, because I had decided that if I was going to listen to Abba songs, they should be sung by Abba, as no-one else can do them as well. But I went with a friend who wanted to see it, and how wrong I had been!
    I loved the way that they fitted the words of the songs so superbly into the storyline, and the way that, even though some of the actors didn’t have good singing voices, the passion and sincerity that they sang the words with made up for it.
    I’d love to see it again.

  13. I saw the stage show twice and loved it.My daughter begged me to go to the movie,but I thought it would never be as good as the stage show.Oh boy was I wrong,I adored it,cant wait for the dvd and am having a Mama Mia party.
    My four year old grandaughter knows all the words of the songs on the soundtrack as it is on in my car all the time,she the youngest fan I know of.
    Any ideas what I could do for the party (Im 52)
    Roll on November 25th,release date.

  14. GrandMa Mia!

    Loved the play and the movie was very good. But come on… actors and actresses were too old for the part. Should have been in their early 40’s.

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