"Mamma Mia!!" – What were they thinking??

‘Mamma Mia!’ – Singing! Dancing! Adapting! Stumbling!”

"Mamma Mia" - the movie!! 

I went to see the movie “Mamma Mia” this weekend at Evanston, and went away a bit disappointed.  I understand the reason for casting actors whose celebrity status is greater than their vocal chops – it’s all about the money.  Bigger star power, assumedly, means larger box-office receipts.  But why not at least cast celebs that can carry a tune, and look comfortable while doing it???!!!

Meryl Streep certainly holds her own, plowing through her numbers with such sweaty enthusiasm that I was often cheering her on without really knowing why.  But for the love of God, who allowed Pierce Brosnan to be anywhere near the movie set???  God help the baby who might be unlucky enough to hear a lullaby “sung” by this guy.  He’s that bad.  And making it worse, Brosnan appears so uncomfortable during his belabored crooning, that he literally seems to be parodying the musical genre itself, reminding me of some of those musical skits Second City creates after asking for audience suggestions.

Thus I was treated to Charles Isherwood’s insightful (and scornfully funny) article in the New York Times that covered these very misgivings, entitled “The Lessons of ‘Mamma Mia!’ – Singing! Dancing! Adapting! Stumbling!”  A few excerpts:

Every few years, with depressing regularity, a hit Broadway musical makes the leap to the big screen and goes splat! Or thud. Or zzzzz. “Mamma Mia!” does a little of all three, to a frantic disco beat, becoming yet another milestone in Hollywood’s repertory of enjoyable stage musicals transformed into lumbering messes on screen.

Isherwood deduces that the director, Phyllida Lloyd, did not cinematically embrace and showcase the show’s joyous inanity:

The real problem is that the director of “Mamma Mia!,” Phyllida Lloyd, seems to have taken the unapologetic silliness of the project (which she directed onstage) as permission to be sloppy. Abba made some of the most highly polished, tightly engineered pop junk ever. There is a kind of perfection in some of those hits that is undeniable even if — or maybe especially if — you can’t stand to hear them. But in matters of craft and technique “Mamma Mia!” proves to be remarkably shoddy, a tangle of clumsy cuts, mismatched shots, bad lighting, egregious overdubbing and scenes in which characters appear to have been haphazardly Photoshopped into the scenery.

Read the entire NY Times article here.

Times movie review here.

Here is a short clip from the movie that shows, during the last few seconds, the breadth of Brosnan’s singing skill.  I’ll tell you up front that this is actually the best he does during the entire movie.

 

Meryl Streep and Pierce Brosnan sing “SOS” in the movie “Mamma Mia”