I watched Mamma Mia! with journalists from various publications and various age-groups, each of whom had their own distinct take on the movie. Some found it surprisingly amusing, others compared it to Bollywood and some even dared to go as far as saying that it was ‘a Hannah Montana episode with a grand budget.’ But the opinion that stood out came from a gentleman who in no way stood out from the crowd in his appearance. ‘Bahut zamaane se aisi picture nahi dekhi.’ he said with an obvious sense of joy and nostalgia that probably took him back to the carefree days of his youth. For him and for many others who belong to the 60s and 70s, Mamma Mia! is nothing short of a reason to celebrate.
ABBA may have never written the most intelligible lyrics. None-the-less they defined the music of the 60s and the 70s. There was a rare quality to their music that made sure that it remained stuck in the listener’s head year after, generation after generation till it became a part of the listener’s life, and a part of his dearest memories. Mamma Mia! throws caution to the wind and brings those memories back to life.
If you identify with the current generation however, Mamma Mia! may be as embarrassing as watching your parents dance in their old, sequined bell-bottoms. But hedonistic nostalgia and marshmallow sweetness aside, this is one well-done musical. The timing of the music is near-perfect – all right words seem to pop in at all the right times to the extent that memorable ABBA tunes almost begin to have a conversational quality to them. The actors too dare to indulge themselves in the maddening euphoria as if they have nothing to prove and nothing to lose. The by-standers too actually seem to be a part of the song and dance and not paid extras who do a jig on cue. It all fits brilliantly into place.
Cheesiness and thread-bare plot notwithstanding, Meryl Streep emerges as the star of the show, looking more lively at times than her on-screen daughter Sophia (Amanda Seyfried). Colin Firth takes the viewer back ‘to the days of flower power’ with his controlled humor and of course his spiked dog-collar. Heck even the ex-007 Pearce Brosnan, sings a duet (and he’s not half-bad). Julie Walters and Christina Baranski too are outstanding as Meryl Streep’s, refusing to age, sidekicks. The 60s brigade in fact, puts on such a show that quite often the younger actors seem to struggle to catch up with them.
All in all, in a year that has seen dark masterpieces such as The Dark Knight and endearingly intelligent animated brilliance in the form of Wall-E, Mamma Mia! is right up there with its distinct flavor of mindless fun. This reviewer definitely recommends Mamma Mia! if you’re the kind who is open to experimenting. But if you can’t fathom going for a musical where actors pushing 50 groove to tunes from the 60s, pass the ticket to your folks. They’ll definitely love this one!
Rating: 3 ½ out of 5.
What the Ratings Mean:
0 – Terrible Beyond Imagination
1 – Mostly Pathetic
2 – Strictly OK
3 – Good
4 – Very Good
5 – Bow Down and Worship!