Ever since I saw the musical of Mamma Mia!, I've been waiting for this movie to come out. The musical is so very clever and witty; it's astounding how well they managed to integrate so many fabulous ABBA songs into a coherent story.
The movie, although entertaining, doesn't live up to the musical, however. There are a number of reasons for this. First and foremost, the singing doesn't quite hit the right note (ha ha). Most of the singers are competent without being brilliant, and Pierce Brosnan is woeful. In discussions after the movie, we speculated that having a cast of 'real people' singing might have been intentional. The muscial numbers were certainly well integrated with the narrative. However, I'm certainly not rushing out to buy the sound-track.
Also, the movie, largely a comedy, lurches uncomfortably from farce to melodrama to romance. I don't think it could quite decide what it wanted to be. There were parts that made me grin and tap my foot (notably the dancing queen scene, where Donna leads all the women on the island down to the water like the pied piper of Hamlin), and other scenes where I cringed (any scene in which Pierce Brosnan tried to sing). I did like much of the sponteneity experienced by many of the characters -- particularly Donna, played by Merryl Streep. But sometimes it all went a bit far. Donna's two friends, played by Julie Walters and Christine Baranski, were great and seemed to sing OK as well.
As I watched the film, I found myself wondering how much digital enhancement of the singing had been done. Some of the songs were very raw, others seemed very slick indeed. Merryl Streep's songs felt very natural though.
Overall I did enjoy the film -- the music is still fantastic and the story still works. Best of all is the setting: a gorgeous Greek island with shimmering water and rustic cobbled paths and steps leading everywhere. Oh how it makes me want to go back to Greece!