When asked if I wanted to review the DVD release of Mamma Mia!: The Movie, I wavered. Laremy's review describing it as "clearly a terrible film," and Erin's, in which she professed to "really, truly enjoy (herself) at this movie" left me conflicted. Mamma Mia! What to do? I decided to go for it, and am I glad I did: Mamma Mia! -- released this week from Universal -- was loads of fun for my entire family.
For those unfamiliar with the storyline, allow me to give you a brief synopsis: Sophie (Amanda Seyfried)
is about to be married at her mother Donna's (Meryl Streep) hotel on a small Greek island. Unbeknownst to Donna, Sophie invites her father, whom she has never met, to the wedding. Actually, she invites three men
and Stellan Skarsgard) -- one of whom, no one knows which, is her father. The film is set to the music of the 1970s Swedish rock super-group ABBA. It's a musical comedy of errors with a terrific cast (all of whom do their own singing) and a gorgeous setting. It was immediately apparent to the kids and me that making this film must have been a whole lot of fun; certainly, watching it is.
Usually, I am not a big fan of the "Bonus Features" accompanying DVDs. However, the "Bonus Features" on this DVD really live up to their name. For what may be the first time ever, I not only sat through all of the bonus material, I really enjoyed it. What surprised me even more was that at least one of my three children sat throughout the bonus material as well.
Our kids like to watch movies with the subtitles on so they can get all of the dialogue. (This sometimes annoys me, but I try to remind myself that it can only help their reading proficiency and comprehension.) Mamma Mia! not only offers subtitles, viewers can choose to watch the entire film with "sing along subtitles," which appear only when a song begins. This turns out to be fun because ABBA's music is almost impossible to resist singing along with -- and this way you can actually get all the words right!
The additional bonus bits are mainly comprised of making-of variations. While there is plenty of overlap, these never became particularly tiresome. It was actually fun watching the hard work, imagination and apparently pure joy that went into the production.
Maybe I'm exhausted by the relentless bad news of our times, starved for something light and joyful to escape with. Perhaps I'm a sucker for a musical, and honestly a sucker for ABBA as well (you can take the girl out of the '70s, but you can't take the '70s out of the girl!), but I think the film's appeal goes beyond that. After all, my six-year-old son, the John Wayne fanatic, adored Mamma Mia! -- he has watched it three times in one week -- and he is only peripherally aware of the news. He was born in 2002. I think the best way to explain our total enjoyment of Mamma Mia! The Movie (and "Bonus Features") can be found in the words of ABBA themselves:
There's a fire within my soul
Just one look and I can hear a bell ring
One more look and I forget everything, w-o-o-o-oh
Mamma mia, here I go again
My my, how can I resist you?
Special clips from the disc: