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Variety goes nuts for Mamma Mia!

No matter how many blockbusters there are, Universal Pictures' screen version of the global hit stage musical "Mamma Mia!" is the most fun to be had at the movies this or any other recent summer.

Teenage boys may be glued to the latest action adventure, but the rest of the family will be having a rollicking good time and dancing in the aisles to Swedish pop group ABBA's irresistible songs. It's a delightful piece of filmmaking with a marvelous cast topped by Meryl Streep in one of her smartest and most entertaining performances ever.

Streep is sensationally good in rendering the whole yarn credible and in making dramatically moving songs such as "Slipping Through My Fingers," sung to her departing daughter, and "The Winner Takes It All" to a lost love. It's no stretch to think of her performance in Oscar terms, ranking with previous musical winners such as Liza Minnelli, Barbra Streisand and Catherine Zeta-Jones.

And when Streep teams with Walters and Baranski for dynamic and crowd-pleasing numbers such as "Mamma Mia!" "Dancing Queen" and "Super Trouper," there's not an audience anywhere that won't be smiling.

P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook and Twitter.

 

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Even though normally I'm crazy about musicals, this one looks so odd to me -- but maybe that's just because I missed the '70s for all intents and purposes.

I do like Brosnan, Firth, and Baranski, though. And Meryl Streep isn't any slouch either. :)

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  • 2 weeks later...

Dang:

Universal's "Mamma Mia!" came out singing overseas ahead of its domestic launch, dominating in English-speaking markets with $24 million on just 1,368 screens in a dozen territories for a stunning $17,536 per-location average.

Have Hollywood musicals (this is a Hollywood musical, isn't it?) always had international appeal? I hadn't thought it was the kind of genre that easily transcended cultures, but maybe it always has been. Or maybe ABBA, being Swedish, gives this film more international appeal. Or maybe a couple of popular actors trump all other considerations.

I'm glad to know not only action movies and cartoons can play overseas.

EDIT: I just noticed that my excerpt mentions "English-speaking" markets. I'm not sure which ones -- maybe Great Britain? Anyway, the "transcends barriers" bit is muted, given that these audiences were all English-speaking.

Edited by Christian

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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Dang:

Universal's "Mamma Mia!" came out singing overseas ahead of its domestic launch, dominating in English-speaking markets with $24 million on just 1,368 screens in a dozen territories for a stunning $17,536 per-location average.

Have Hollywood musicals (this is a Hollywood musical, isn't it?) always had international appeal?

I'm not sure about the genre as a whole, but I remember hearing that Gene Kelly was pretty popular in France! (Maybe An American in Paris had something to do with it?)

Edited by Gina
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The pass I just got calls this film an "adaptation of the beloved musical that has been seen by more than 30 million people in 160 cities and 8 languages around the world." So it looks like the pump has been primed, in those overseas markets. The franchise has a fanbase over there already.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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Glenn Kenny gets all snarky and funny -- and apparently this movie has already cost Colin Firth one of his fans (i.e. Kenny's wife).

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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Heh.

I paid money to see Mamma Mia! at the Grove last night. As the Grove crowd skews younger, it was no surprise that management was showing this hideously goofy, off-the-planet musical in one of their smallest theatres (and The Dark Knight in four much larger houses). But what a surreal trip this thing is. I mean, I started to quietly flip out within minutes. My mouth opened wider and wider. I was agog. The mood was "fun" and spritzy and all, but at the same time it felt like bad mescaline.

I'm not talking about the bubbly girlie vibe that hammers you down with a mechanical relentlessness. That's just the director, Phyllida Lloyd, trying to give the film a unified emotional vibe. I'm talking about the incompetent look and feel of the film. Top to bottom, it is poorly crafted, poorly lit, poorly cut, poorly green-screened.

Otherwise I agree that Meryl Streep has given the worst performance ever in this thing. She overdoes it, laying on the high spirits and the rolling around and grimacing and mugging at every turn. As N.Y. Times critic A.O. Scott said, "There is a degree of fascination in watching an Oscar-winning Yale School of Drama graduate mug and squirm, shimmy and shriek and generally fill every moment with antic, purposeless energy, as if she were hogging the spotlight in an eighth-grade musical." And yes, I still blame Osama bin Laden for this.

P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook and Twitter.

 

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Currently running neck-and-neck with Hairspray for best opening weekend of a musical ever.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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Victor Morton:

Yes, I am a proudly obsessive Abba fan

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Ken Hanke had a pretty amusing review.

Brandon

"God is so great and merciful that he does not require that we name him precisely. God is even willing to be anonymous for a time. Remember how God led the Three Wise Men from the East to Christ? The Wise Men did not know the God of Israel or Jesus. They worshipped the stars. So God used a star to lure them."--The Twelve Steps for Christians

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  • 3 weeks later...
Ken Hanke had a pretty amusing review.
Look, if you

There is this difference between the growth of some human beings and that of others: in the one case it is a continuous dying, in the other a continuous resurrection. (George MacDonald, The Princess and Curdie)

Isn't narrative structure enough of an ideology for art? (Greg Wright)

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  • 2 months later...

Streep helps 'Mamma' sink 'Titanic'

The ABBA musical has taken in over $133 million at the English box office and is fully expected to soon overtake "Titanic" which earned about $138 million. In the U.S. alone the movie musical has earned $143 million.

Liz Smith, Variety, November 3

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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  • 1 month later...

'Mamma' sinks 'Titanic' record in the U.K.

Universal Pictures International can finally boast that Phyllida Lloyd's "Mamma Mia!" is the highest-grossing movie ever released in the U.K., sailing past the previous record holder, "Titanic."

Lloyd's romantic musical comedy finally sank the 10-year grip "Titanic" has had on the record with her film singing its way to 69.1 million pounds ($105.8 mil million), while the James Cameron drama sailed away with 69 million pounds in 1998.

Hollywood Reporter, December 16

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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  • 1 month later...

Saw this last night with the wife; found it surprisingly tolerable -- but maybe that's because the buzz had been so bad. :)

I was startled to realize that Streep's daughter is played by the same girl who played the spacey-eyed ditz in Mean Girls -- the one who can predict the weather with her breasts. How did she become such a bright, peppy, attractive young woman (and with such a good voice)?

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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Saw this last night with the wife; found it surprisingly tolerable -- but maybe that's because the buzz had been so bad. :)

I was startled to realize that Streep's daughter is played by the same girl who played the spacey-eyed ditz in Mean Girls -- the one who can predict the weather with her breasts. How did she become such a bright, peppy, attractive young woman (and with such a good voice)?

To quote the Master Thespian (As played by John Lovitz)... "It's called ACTING!" :)

"You know...not EVERY story has to be interesting." -Gibby

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I've not seen this, but it's box office take must still be climbing. There have been various Karaoke showing etc. which still seem to be doing the rounds.

Matt

MAMMA MIA showing at karaoke ...

So ...

Does one slit himself across the wrists or up them?

Yeah ... well ... I'm gonna have to go ahead and disagree with you there on that one.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I saw this on DVD last week and was amazed by how awful it was. My husband tried to warn me but I thought "it has Streep, Julie Walters, Pierce Brosnan AND Colin Forth how bad can it be?"

Bad, let me tell you. I would stay away unless you're a hardcore ABBA fan or a brainless woman under 20 or over 50.

Streep has never embarrassed herself so badly and although I've been a big fan of Colin Firth since Bridget Jones' Diary, I think he needs to find a major role as something over than a bumbling Englishman or his career will get as predictable as Hugh Grant's.

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It's a big silly pile of mush, isn't it? And yet, I couldn't help wanting to sing along in the cinema. But then, I reckon ABBA are top class pop (I wouldn't call myself a fan though).

It's been interesting seeing how people have gone to this. I read a good little interview in a Sight & Sound that said that the film had been made specifically because of the success of the stage musical. They realised that they had a slow-burner that could reap massive returns. And that's pretty much how it's been made and marketed: targeted at women, slow cinema saturation which targets older couples who traditionally take about a month before getting round to see a film and usually choose on the basis of friends' reports, and re-releases with sing-a-long subtitles were planned in pre-production. In this it will undoubtedly follow in the footsteps of The Sound of Music, although it doesn't take a genius (or even a small child) to know which is the superior film.

"There is, it would seem, in the dimensional scale of the world a kind of delicate meeting place between imagination and knowledge, a point, arrived at by diminishing large things and enlarging small ones, that is intrinsically artistic" - Vladimir Nabokov

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  • 10 months later...

Question: Should one's mom have bought this HUGE box-set of Mamma Mia!, including, like, a 5 gazillion page booklet, a DVD and a CD... a Christmas present to herself for Christmas... and should one admit that, OK, ABBA aren't that bad after all, I mean they did do "Waterloo" and "Dancing Queen" I mean it is fun, right? funn? -- should one admit these things, does that oblige one to, at a certain point, watch mom's disc? Or should it be avoided, even as it pleads with us with wanton, aching eyes from said mom's kitchen table?

Edited by Persona

In an interstellar burst, I am back to save the Universe.

Filmsweep by Persona. 2013 Film Journal. IlPersona.

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Stef, you should watch it, if only to realize how wrongheaded your dissin' of Gertrud has been. Dreyer's film is challenging and not to my tastes, although tastes change.

Except when it comes to Mamma Mia! You'll know within the first two minutes that it's insufferable, unbearable, but bear with it you must. (Actually, I fell asleep after 40 minutes or so).

Edited by Christian

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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Question: Should one's mom have bought this HUGE box-set of Mamma Mia!, including, like, a 5 gazillion page booklet, a DVD and a CD... a Christmas present to herself for Christmas... and should one admit that, OK, ABBA aren't that bad after all, I mean they did do "Waterloo" and "Dancing Queen" I mean it is fun, right? funn? -- should one admit these things, does that oblige one to, at a certain point, watch mom's disc? Or should it be avoided, even as it pleads with us with wanton, aching eyes from said mom's kitchen table?

Can you watch it with the sound off? Or while wearing headphones listening to something else? Then it shouldn't be *that* bad.

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Question: Should one's mom have bought this HUGE box-set of Mamma Mia!, including, like, a 5 gazillion page booklet, a DVD and a CD... a Christmas present to herself for Christmas... and should one admit that, OK, ABBA aren't that bad after all, I mean they did do "Waterloo" and "Dancing Queen" I mean it is fun, right? funn? -- should one admit these things, does that oblige one to, at a certain point, watch mom's disc? Or should it be avoided, even as it pleads with us with wanton, aching eyes from said mom's kitchen table?

I'm suspicious here. I read this post, and I think of all the psychiatrist/patient scenes I've ever watched that begin...

Patient]: Doc, I've got this "friend" who (insert embarrassing mental disorder, fetish, or just plain weird character trait)....

...and I really suspect that in this post "mom" has been inserted where "friend" should be. Anyways, hope your "mom" enjoys reading up on the making of Mamma Mia, while chowing down on a huge tub of popcorn, while the movie plays in the background (in THX surround). :D

Formerly Baal_T'shuvah

"Everyone has the right to make an ass out of themselves. You just can't let the world judge you too much." - Maude 
Harold and Maude
 

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