Unfortunately, I am not a huge fan of the music of Abba, and there's the rub. I never saw the global musical theater hit. And Brit theater director Phyllida Lloyd, making her film debut, opted to keep those fans happy with this movie, which falls into the trap of a slavish Broadway to silver-screen adaptation. It doesn't follow the rules of good filmmaking.
Where is it said that all the songs have to play out in real time, even when they stop the movie cold? And because the book for the musical was written around pre-existing songs, their ability to carry genuine emotion is already limited.
No question, the actors up on screen are having the time of their lives. (Only Skarsgard looks like he wishes he were in another movie. But he hardly gets to sing.) While Streep is delightful as the feisty middle-aged single mom about to give away her only daughter in marriage, the star of the show is young Amanda Seyfried, who has great pipes.
Her other co-stars don't fare so well. But does it matter? My pal Jane predicts that this exuberant Greek Island romantic musical will play great to aging boomers looking to get away from the real world. Look at this as an escapist fantasy during dark times, she says.
What Mamma Mia! needs to achieve that goal is to be more review-proof than most chick flicks. Here's a glimpse of reviews to come from Variety.
[Originally appeared on Variety.com]