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Mamma Mia!’ What a disaster!

It has been considered by many to be one of the most celebrated Broadway musicals. At the same time, its music reaches far beyond the limits of its stage performance by utilizing one of the most well known bands of a particular generation. With the iconic music of the legendary band ABBA, “Mamma Mia!” has touched audiences with its energetic characters and unique soundtrack choices. Now, as it’s given its transfer to film, not much from the original Broadway show has been changed.

By filming among the magnificent backdrop of Greece, the colorful characters of “Mamma Mia” and their enriched environment finally garner the full spectrum of the story. Captured by the beauty and romance of her country, Sophie (Amanda Seyfried), is finally inching closer to her wedding day. Still working for her mother, Donna (Meryl Streep), Sophie lives out her routine days at the family’s hillside and beach front hotel. However, nothing about her past is routine. Hoping to discover her true identity, she invites three men she’s never met before, all with the possibility of being her long lost father. Much to her dismay, Donna, trying to forget her frenzied past, is unaware of the arrival of her three past loves.

With an ideal sense of character, the producers of the film breathe life into these three men by appropriately casting Colin Firth, Stellan Skarsgard and Pierce Brosnan. At first their on screen charisma may seem limitless, but when they open their mouths to belt out the lyrics to the classic songs, their presence goes from enjoyable to downright awkward. While the only one who seems to be holding her own is Meryl Streep, the surrounding cast including the overly energetic Amanda Seyfried shows “Mamma Mia!” for anything but its true colors.

On a Broadway play it may be necessary for the performers to show as much enthusiasm as possible when expressing the emotions of their characters for the sake of the audience in the final rows. The same does not apply to film. Throughout most of the film, the actors seem to be just as energetic, if not more, than their Broadway counterparts.

By refusing to substantially transfer these and many other qualities of “Mamma Mia!” for the medium of film, many scenes would have been better off being filmed back on a soundstage as they were originally conceived. While it may be fun to witness a classic story unfold within a new light, the failure to update this material in a method that is reasonable for filming makes it seem overwhelming and pointless.

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