Here’s a special bonus treat for all you lovely people: a guest review from a friend of mine, Mr Andy Young, esq. You know how I watch the shitty movies so you don’t have to? Well, he watches the really shitty ones so that I don’t have to. What a guy.
James Bond really can’t sing
My name is Andy and after being kindly asked by Mr McNeely to provide a review of this film to save him having to endure it, I was happy to help. I also thought it would save a few souls on this earth from having to experience it!
Now don’t get me wrong, I like the occasional chick flick. Love Actually, Hitch and without a hint of shame, Miss Congeniality are some of my personal favourites. But the thought of ever having to watch Mamma Mia filled me with the same fear I might have felt if I was ever made to watch a film about spider ghosts [Just to be clear, Andy is terrified of both spiders and ghosts –Ryan].
Due to a long stint of singledomness, I was able to avoid being made to watch this film. However, in December, I asked out a beautiful young lady, who must have banged her head because she said yes, and the rest they say is history. So having to watch this guff nonsense was inevitable and on 9th April that fateful day arrived. I will admit that after a weekend of being pestered to watch it, I had held out but actually suggested it as a compromise as long as I didn’t have to watch Hollyoaks! (Half an hour of sodomy would be more desirable in my opinion). To anyone who doesn’t know what Hollyoaks is, imagine falling hard, in a sitting position, onto a pushbike with no seat! And you’re halfway there.
The film is set on the fictional Greek island of Kalokairi, where a young lady by the name of Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) is getting married tomorrow to Sky (Dominic Cooper) and has sent three invitations to different old men, but signed from her mother. Basically, Sophie grew up never knowing her father, but explains to her just-arrived bridesmaids Ali (Ashley Lilley) and Lisa (Rachel McDowall) that she found her mother’s old diary. She explains that it mentions three men that her mum Donna (Meryl Streep) had relations with during the summer she was conceived. It turns out Donna was a bit of a dirty back in the day, but Sophie reckons that when she meets her real dad she will know. Potential Dad number 1 is Sam (Pierce Brosnan), an architect from New York. Potential Dad number 2 is Harry (Colin Firth), a successful banker all the way from the UK. And potential Dad number 3 is Bill (Stellan Skarsgard), some Swedish travel guy with a boat. Pick Sam I say, he was James Bond after all! Despite only each having had a holiday romance with Donna 20 years ago, they all decide to go to Kalokairi.
Back on the island, Donna’s pals and former band mates (when you hear them sing you can understand why they chucked it), Rosie (Julie Walters) and Tanya (Christine Baranski) arrive. Rosie is a hippy-looking author and Tanya is a serial divorcee with new boobs and a few pennies in the bank because of said profession. Tanya, for me, is the best thing in this movie. I may be being a bit biased as The Big Bang Theory is my favourite show on TV and Christine features as Leonard’s inadvertently hilarious mother, Beverly Hoffstader, but I think she is perfect in her role and is rapidly becoming one of my favourite actresses. Later Donna discovers her former lovers that Sophie has tried to hide, cue mass dancing and singing! Basically the remainder of the movie is about Sophie trying to bond with each man to try and determine who her father is, about Donna dealing with her past and feelings for her former flames, and about a sack load of singing and dancing. Who is Sophie’s dad? Is Donna over her exes? Are her exes over her? And who would win in a fight between King Kong and a dinosaur?
First thoughts are that it is obvious that the story was built round the music and not vice versa because it is predictable and clumsy. It’s almost like a pantomime in that it’s not meant to run smoothly. I wouldn’t be surprised if someone told me they shot the whole movie in one take. The singing from the cast is just awful. Think back to my feelings on watching Hollyoaks. The noise someone would make if that had occurred sounds better than the singing from most of the cast. It’s crass, cheesy and makes you cringe.
It is at this point I would like to have a brief interlude to confess something. I referred to this earlier as guff nonsense, and my brief outline indicates certain bitterness towards the fact I had to watch it. But my name is Andy and I am a liar. I liked it! I know it’s wrong and I feel a wee bit dirty that I’ve said it but I can’t help it.
I apologise as I am now going to ramble on considerably due to my novice status as a film reviewer and I’m not quite sure what to write. Unless you live in a cave, you will know Abba, and I have never met anyone who can say that they hate them. I’m not saying there aren’t people on this planet who don’t like them as there are a few annoying tunes but there are some gems. And I think that if aliens came to this planet intent on destroying us and we played them Abba, they would let us off. And if you can honestly say there is not an Abba tune that you like, then you kick puppies in the face. Shame on you.
In a few parts it made me laugh out loud, like when almost every female on the island end up singing and dancing on a pier to Dancing Queen, or when Rosie takes a shine to Bill and tries to seduce him by singing Take a Chance On Me extremely badly. I touched on how bad it was earlier but the singing, oh my word the singing! There’s not enough autotune in the world to sort out Pierce Brosnan’s singing. And the rest aren’t much better but that’s the whole point. To be fair, there are a few scenes that are done properly, particularly when the men set off sailing around the Island with Sophie in tow and tell her stories about their time with her mum and sing the lesser-known Our Last Summer. I hadn’t heard this song before but I loved it and the whole scene is just really nice. I can’t describe it any other way than that.
This film doesn’t come near any of my favourite chick flicks in any way but it’s not supposed to, if that makes sense. I’m almost certain that in a few scenes, you can see that the cast are trying not to laugh. I think that when they got the call they had to dare themselves to do it but are so glad they did it because it was so much fun. I can compare it to the first time I farted in front of my girlfriend.*
The truth is that I didn’t want to watch the film, and when I knew I was going to I wanted to hate it, and when it was over I said I didn’t like it to try and sound manly, but the fact is I did. My opinion is that it’s like Marmite. You’ll either love it or hate it but everyone needs to find out which side they are on. I know that one day in the future, I will be having a lazy day with the other half watching telly, flicking through channels and unable to find anything good on, and I’ll turn to her and say ‘fancy watching Mamma Mia?’ And I can live with that.
* In case anyone is wondering, she laughed!