Mamma Mia!'s out on DVD today. (Some might say "DVD and Blu-Ray," but I remain swaddled in Downy-soft, blissful denial concerning the existence of the latter. So, there you go. I am a happy island, frozen in time somewhere around 2005. [On a related note, I think this Obama fella may have a serious shot.])
So, I meant to post a review back during the summer, around the film's open date. It's an understandably popular timing strategy in "the biz," one you may recognize from just about every other review you've ever read by anyone in the history of ever. It makes sense: Review movies that are currently in theaters. And, like I said, I meant to conform, meant to post it back in July. Complications arose, though, when I didn't. Now, though, lest you think you'd dodged a bullet, I present, for the first time anywhere, my brief, abhorrently-late-for-the-opening-but-more-or-less-on-the-money-for-the-DVD-release opinion of Mamma Mia! [begun 7/22/2008]. (You're welcome.) Into the time machine:
Look, I’ll lay this out at “go”: I went to see Mamma Mia! chiefly because my wife wanted to. I say that not by way of excuse or disavowment, but in order to begin mapping out for you my temperamental landscape at the time, so that you may run any of my subsequent comments concerning the film through that particular pyschoemotional strainer — along with, once again, the ol’ catchall grain of salt.
Possibly Significant Factor #2: On our way into the theater, a critic friend informed us that I’d gotten certain dates mixed up and that, at that very moment, the Dark Knight IMAX press screening (which I’d thought was scheduled for the night after) was starting across town. Which meant that, as we sat down to a disco musical, I was missing my last (free) chance at catching what [had] arguably been the summer’s most impatiently awaited action epic on a decadently mammoth, grabs-and-your-eyes-and-screams-at-'em-sized screen. (We saw it, instead, the next evening, on the perfectly-reasonably-sized, only-regular-big screen. Everything was fine.)
I feel bad, sometimes, opening a review with a disclaimer. There’s a sense in which it might be said to do a disservice to the considered film. I don't mean it in that sense. I only mean it to fill word count. Which, in a blog, doesn't apply. Hmm. Away, then.
Speaking of the film: It's fun. Kinda. In parts. No, yeah, it is. Well, I mean, look. Here's the thing: I'm not going to get away with saying it's fantastic, because it isn't, and my conscience would intervene. But come on. To paraphrase probably every other review of this film that you'll read (you know, all the on-time ones): Dude it's an ABBA musical. You know? And as such, it will all-but-certainly leave the open-minded-but-non-ABBA-savvy among us with two prevailing thoughts: (1) "Huh -- I didn't know ABBA sang that. That's kinda catchy"; and, post-viewing, (2) "Well, that was kinda goofy and cornball, but I feel oddly chipper now, and I can't be mad about that."
Do we need to talk about the story? Really? I mean, I started to try to tell someone about it today, and ... can't I just say "ABBA musical" and be done with it? The film's Imdb.com page does a pretty bang-up summary job: "The story of a bride-to-be trying to find her real father ... using hit songs by the popular '70s group ABBA." That's about as appropriate a description as I could ever conjure, at least in terms of conveying the story's concern with realism. But see? Realism? In a flick carpeted with Swedish disco interludes?
So, yeah. Instead of plot description, here's a fact** about ABBA: If you've ever wondered if its name came from simply combining the initials of the band members' first names into a phonetically tenable acronym (or, at least, one more pleasing than BABA or BAAB), I'm pretty sure that's a sizeable 10-4.
Oh, wait. According to Dictionary.com: