Home > Reviews > MAMMA MIA! – Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus

MAMMA MIA! – Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Mamma Mia was one of the first of the current spate of “jukebox musicals”, which take existing pop or rock music – in this case from 70s Swedish super-group ABBA – and write a loose story around a framework of songs by the band in question. Since Mamma Mia premiered on stage in 1999 it has been followed by productions featuring music by everyone from Rod Stewart to Queen and Elvis Presley, but Mamma Mia is also the first one to jump to the big screen.

The film stars Meryl Streep as Donna, a middle-aged woman who owns a taverna on a Greek island, whose daughter (Sophie) is getting married. Sophie harbors dreams of having her father walk her down the aisle, but Donna has never revealed who her real father is; despite this, Sophie has tracked down the three men who could possible be the father – Sam (Pierce Brosnan), Harry (Colin Firh) and Bill (Stellan Skarsgård) – and invited them all to the wedding, much to Donna’s dismay.

The music for Mamma Mia was supervised by the two original songwriters from ABBA, Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus, along with music director Martin Lowe, and is surprisingly faithful to the originals in terms of style, although the vocalists are very, very different. Meryl Streep, who has a couple of vocal solos in the title track “Mamma Mia” and the emotionally fraught “The Winner Takes It All”, is actually surprisingly accomplished, but she’s no Agnethe or Anni-Frid, although she clearly has a ball singing along with her partners-in-crime Christine Baranski and Julie Walters on “Money Money Money”, the ubiquitous “Dancing Queen” and the hilarious “Super Trouper”.

However, poor old Pierce Brosnan is less successful, tunelessly warbling his way through “SOS” and “When All Is Said and Done” and only just managing to retain his dignity. The whole thing is a throwback to the decade of glitter and flares and disco balls, and will hold a nostalgic charm for some listeners, but to be honest I’d rather just listen to the originals.

Rating: ***

Track Listing:

  • Honey, Honey (3:07)
  • Money, Money, Money (3:06)
  • Mamma Mia (3:34)
  • Dancing Queen (4:04)
  • Our Last Summer (2:57)
  • Lay All Your Love On Me (4:29)
  • Super Trouper (3:53)
  • Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight) (3:51)
  • The Name Of The Game (4:55)
  • Voulez-Vous (4:35)
  • SOS (3:19)
  • Does Your Mother Know (3:01)
  • Slipping Through My Fingers (3:50)
  • The Winner Takes It All (4:57)
  • When All Is Said And Done (3:17)
  • Take A Chance On Me (4:01)
  • I Have A Dream/Thank You For The Music (8:37)

Running Time: 69 minutes 51 seconds

Decca Records 543115 (2008)

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