I went to see Mama Mia! this afternoon. I discovered that The Showroom had it on, so dashed down there and got a comfy seat for the bargain price of £3.70. I’d say it was a quiet cinema, but despite the fact that there were only 20 or 30 people in there, the three middle-aged ladies next to me were very, very noisy. After having talked loudly through all the adverts and trailers, they were whispering loudly during the opening scene. I had to lean over like a schoolmarm and ask if they planned to talk all the way through the film. ‘Absolutely not’ said the posh one next to me – but they did talk a lot (albeit mainly in the noisy bits). They laughed a lot though, and sang along, and clapped at the end, so good for them, even if they seemed like a hen party. Maybe they were. At 4 in the afternoon.
That aside, it was a great big beamy smile of a film. I sat there with a huge grin the whole time. I think the last time I watched a film like that, it was Hairspray. Unlike Hairspray, though, this is one show I wouldn’t want to watch in the theatre. I think without the celebrities looking daft and the gorgeous scenery, the wafer thin and utterly predictable plot, its odd sense of time (is it set in the 90s?) and its many implausibilities wouldn’t stand up.
As it is, though, the film works. Yes, there are some dodgy performances (the bridesmaids; the bar man) and some ropey vocals (Pierce Brosnan, Julie Walters, Colin Firth) but the whole thing has so much energy, and fun – it looks like it was a complete blast to make. Meryl Streep and Amanda Seyfried sing well, and Meryl looks incredible, especially considering she must be a good fifteen years older than her character. The three dads are all great, Seyfried and Dominic Cooper make a sweet enough couple, the extras are all great fun, but Meryl Streep, Christine Baranski and Julie Walters, the three middle-aged friends who used to do a girl-band thing as youngsters, are the heart of the piece, and all look like they had the time of their lives doing it. And they probably represent the key target audience, too, so are an absolute win.
Oh, and it’s full of Abba songs, which are all bloody amazing, naturally.
Now I just want to get a load of people together and drink cocktails, eat lush food and sing and dance to Scandinavian disco-pop under fairly lights on a warm summer evening on a Greek Island. Ladies and gentlemen, I have a dream…