Meryl Streep was divine. Colin Firth was adorable. Christine Baranski was born to play that role. Pierce Brosnan isn’t a great singer, but his salt and pepper hair covers all manner of sins.
I saw a touring production of Mamma Mia at the National Theatre in Washington DC in 2004 or 2005. I always am blown away in any real musical theatre production at the sheer talent of the actors–even off Broadway shows feature incredibly gifted singers and musicians down to the very smallest supporting role. In the movie version, star power definitely trumps talent. However, without the stars in the main roles, I doubt the movie would actually do all that well, especially since they kept the charming dorky and goofy tone of the play intact–a genius element that unfortunately doesn’t usually translate into commercial success.
I agree with Slate’s review that “young female audiences whose idea of cool doesn’t include a 59-year-old woman dancing on a rooftop in overalls to the strains of the title song. But you know what? Those people can kiss Meryl’s denim-clad ass.”
Meryl Streep’s sheer power and presence will leave no one doubting that Mamma Mia is much more about Donna and not her daughter Sophie (although Amanda Seyfried is one of the better talents in the movie) and her obvious Daddy issues. The Daddy issues actually bothered me a bit more in the movie than in the play, probably because in a theatre production, there is so much happening at one time on different parts of the stage at the same time. You simply can’t pay attention to the gay boys dancing in flippers and snorkels and to Sophie’s reasons for thinking marriage at 20 is a good idea at the same time.
The movie was a ton of fun, and it’s hard to imagine anyone but Meryl Streep in that role–she was just that good.