Over 30 million theatregoers have seen the Mamma Mia! stage show. If only half that number see the new film version of the celebrated Abba musical, then it will truly be a hit, and the song Money, Money, Money will apply.
Fans of the band will not be disappointed. Others, for whom Abba is a four-letter word, need not apply.
The photogenic setting is the Greek island where hippy Donna (Meryl Streep) owns a hotel. Her 20-year-old daughter, Sophie (Amanda Seyfried), is about to marry Sky (Dominic Cooper). Donna is enjoying her reunion with old friends and former Donna and the Dynamos band-mates Tanya (Christine Baranski) and Rosie (Julie Walters).
But three unexpected visitors disrupt the idyllic, song-laden scene — Sophie, having learned she has three possible dads, invites candidates Sam (Pierce Brosnan), Bill (Stellan Skarsgard) and Harry (Colin Firth, as boring as ever) to the wedding.
What follows is a high-spirited mixture of popular songs, comedy and mild emotional traumas, performed with the larger-than-life exuberance of a pantomime. Streep clearly gives her all and then some, Julie Walters overacts, and Baranski delights with a powerhouse performance. Brosnan’s acting has the right light touch but his singing goes places no human voice should go.
The original show’s creators, producer Judy Craymer, screenwriter Catherine Johnson and debuting director Phyllida Lloyd know exactly what they are doing — happily recreating the essence of the song-stuffed stage show.