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Movie Review

Mamma Mia!a.k.a. “Mamma Mia! The Movie”

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some sex-related comments.

Reviewed by: Misty Wagner

Very Offensive
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Primary Audience:
Adults, Teens
Musical, Romance, Comedy
1 hr. 48 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
July 18, 2008 (wide—3,000 theaters)
DVD release: December 16, 2008
Copyright, Universal Pictures Copyright, Universal Pictures Copyright, Universal Pictures Copyright, Universal Pictures Copyright, Universal Pictures Copyright, Universal Pictures Copyright, Universal Pictures Copyright, Universal Pictures Copyright, Universal Pictures Copyright, Universal Pictures
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Featuring: Meryl Streep, Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth, Stellan Skarsgård, Julie Walters, Dominic Cooper, Amanda Seyfried, Christine Baranski, Juan Pablo Di Pace, Dylan Turner, Chris Jarvis, George Georgiou, Rachel McDowall, Philip Michael, Ashley Lilley, Clare Louise Connolly, Enzo Squillino Jr., Norma Atallah
Director: Phyllida Lloyd
Producer: Benny Andersson, Judy Craymer, Gary Goetzman, Tom Hanks, Mark Huffam, Björn Ulvaeus, Rita Wilson
Distributor: Universal Pictures

“A mother. A daughter. Three possible fathers. Take a trip down the aisle you'll never forget.”

Mamma Mia is the film version of the incredibly successful Broadway show of the same title. Comprised entirely of Abba songs, Mamma Mia tells the story of Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) and her quest to find out who she is. Our opening scene shows Sophie mailing away three wedding invitations to three men. The next scene reveals that it is now the day before Sophie’s wedding and she is confessing to her bridesmaid’s that she has a secret. She tells the story, or rather sings the story, of how she never knew who her father was. Upon sneaking a peak at the diary her mother kept over the year that Sophie was born, she has now it narrowed down to one of those three men. On a whim, she admitted, she invited all three of them to the wedding. Surprisingly, all three of them accepted and were on their way. Naively, Sophie believed that one look at her true father would reveal that piece of something she was missing all along.

So simple, she thought.

In all actuality, what ensues from her scheme is the resurrection of her mother Donna’s (Meryl Streep) long ago broken heart, hurt and distrust from her groom, (Dominic Cooper) and an immense amount of Chaos and confusion for herself. Along for the chaotic ride of unanswered questions are Sam- (Pierce Brosnon) Donna’s one true love, Bill- (Stellan Skarsgård) her hippie rebound affair, and Harry (Colin Firth) her deep and musically bohemian fling…


Sophie’s claimed difficulties, due to a lack of a father growing up, are a very real and important hurt. So often Hollywood glamorizes the single parent, and it’s refreshing to see it at least acknowledged as an issue. (Of course, this isn’t an attack on single parents either.)

In fact, as a single mother, Donna truly does demonstrate unconditional love. Having come from a family of legalism, Donna’s own mother wouldn’t help her when she ended up pregnant. Instead, Donna gave up her music career to raise her daughter as best she could.

I especially liked that the three potential fathers, (Harry, Bill and Sam) were complete strangers upon coming to Greece for the wedding, but by the end of the film are closely bonded as friends. Considering the reasons they were there, I thought this was a beautiful testament to how we can (and should) make the most of our circumstances—however awkward or grim.

A very strong emphasis was put on the importance of life long friendships, regardless of the way life’s currents change. Donna’s best friends pulled through for her, despite their living on an entirely different continent. Once upon a time the three of them had seemed to have everything in common, but as time passed, now they couldn’t be more different. Yet, bonded and connected they were.


Oh… Where to begin? I won’t list every possibly offensive detail here. It truly would give up the majority of the film and make this a twelve paged review.

There is no nudity. I will give it that. And, actually, except for a few cleavage shots, the wardrobe in this film was impressive. Through a large portion of this movie, Sophia is only dressed in a bathing suit. EVEN SO, it is one of the most modest suits I’ve seen in a movie, in a long time. HOWEVER—the sexual implications, references or suggestive gestures are woven through the film almost from start to finish. Despite this, the profanity is kept fairly mild.

One of the potential fathers, it turns out, is gay.

There is absolutely no respect for the covenant of marriage. The entire underlying theme of the film is love, emotion and feelings.

In the non-glitter clad version of reality, this exact scenario could prove devastating. It could potentially destroy the heart of the child and alter the lives of the mother and possible fathers. I realize this is only a story, but we see it in the world all around us—paternity tests, afternoon talk shows and fatherless children. I just felt that, perhaps, it treated a very real and common scenario a bit too carelessly.

Honestly, I wasn’t sure what to expect from this film. Once a cast full of talented and respectably actors was revealed, even the biggest skeptic couldn’t help but be even a little intrigued. Despite the cast, and their obviously energetic and committed performances, I was disappointed. Perhaps part of the appeal to so many is the cheesy dialogue and barely woven story line. I am willing to allot that as a possibility. I, however, wasn’t impressed. From a film quality perspective, the cinematography often stooped to immature levels. There are several scenes where the blunt contrast in shots is alarming and sloppy. I lost track of the times that the background, props or scenery seemed to look unbelievably cheap. There was a minimal amount of flow from scene to scene, and an almost contradictory tone on more than one occasion. I found the entire film lacking class. I understand the need for tongue-in-cheek humor, gaudy accessories, and even a large portion of the humor—but even so I found the film tasteless and unimpressive. The only time I really enjoyed this movie, was during the credit sequence. There was an element of fun there that could have made the rest of the movie a bit brighter, if the filmmakers had cleaned up the technical angle of things…

Violence: None / Profanity: Mild / Sex/Nudity: Moderate

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Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Positive—I didn't expect to like this movie, but I really did. it was colourful and fun and made me want to sing along. I really enjoyed watching the friendships between the characters and watching sophie realise that to find that “missing part” she needed to know herself better.

The scenery in the Greek Islands is beautiful. parts of the movie came across tacky, but because the cast looked like they were having so much fun, it came across to the audience as fun and silly (in a good way) too.

Morally, nothing bothered me in this movie. It was refreshing to have no sex scenes, no swearing (from what I remember) and modest swim wear. it was also nice to see the three potential dads really care for Sophie and want to be her dad (probably not realistic, but nice).
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 3½
—Hayley, age 27
Positive—“Mama Mia” is the most fun to be had at the movies. Great music,a wonderful piece of filmmaking, not to mention a marvelous cast,such a polished and enjoyable film,no offensive language, sexual scenes, violence, such masterfully crafted music, fun songs, such energetic and colorful performers, not to mention beautiful shots in Greece. Such “gusto” is performed by all,such great natured comedy, smiling, laughing, dancing, that's what “Mama Mia” is all about. There was one partial nudity scene, approx. a ¼ of a second you see a man's buttox, that is really the only scene I would mention to “warn” other Christian's, other than this one scene,no bad language,I simply cannot wait til’ the movie comes out on DVD, I even took my mom who was going through a rough time, she too is a strong Christian, she said it's the BEST movie she's seen in years, we need MORE musicals like this!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Suzanna Johnston, age 40
Positive—If you love ABBA music you will love this film. It's all about the music. You will be singing along if not out loud at least silently in your head.

The on location filming in Greece is nice too.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Martin Ulrich, age 47
Neutral—This is a movie multiple generations of women can enjoy. My twenty something daughter, my eighty plus mother, and I thought it absolutely fun beyond belief. I didn't care for the sexual overtones or Bill's tatooed backside, but I have come to realize that unless the movie is specifically geared towards Christians, there is going to be something offensive. I'd say the movie ran 85% fun (I laughed till I cried for “Dancing Queen”), with the remaining 15% being the “oh, well, that's the secular point of view—let's get past it, please.” So, I'd lean more towards a positive in my neutral rating.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Pam Webb, age 50+
Negative—I grew up with Abba's music. I always thought it was okay—no one to show me the truth. When I was all grown up, I gave my heart to the Lord. I realised that a lot of pop music was actually not that okay. You see, we enjoy the music so much, we forget to actually take a step back and look at the message.

My son of 12 recently became all excited about “Mamma Mia.” He actually bought himself the CD. Then we sat down and started reading the lyrics. He was shocked out of his socks! So, take the lyrics of the songs to the Lord, and ask Him whether those are the values he wants our children to learn.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 2
—Johan, age 44 (South Africa)
Negative—One of the worst films imaginable, simply a portrayal of a society without any direction, morality, or concept of the Creator's intention for godly relationships. At the same time, it is a great portrayal of the tragedy of wasted lives, wasted talent, and a great portrayal of “the way of the transgressor is hard” (Proverbs 13:15).
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 1
—Blake, age 44 (USA)
Negative—Apart from the movie trying to make it look alright to have sex and children out of wedlock, which is pretty much the norm coming out of scummy Hollywood these days, the whole plot of the movie was extremely moronically conceived. It's like, dang, I can find a more intelligently written plot from the Barney the Dinosaur episodes my almost 2 year old niece watches. I keep wondering to myself why that daughter in this movie just didn't get a blood test on all 3 of those men to find out which one was her father instead of making all of us have to endure this one and a half hour horrible piece of moviemaking. I give this movie an extreme thumbs down! You know, this movie kind of reminds me of the show, Cop Rock, from the early 90s. LOL
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: ½
—Les, age 37 (USA)
Negative—Why must we be sabotaged again by Hollywood's attempts to sneak in yet another gay storyline when not expected. I was already bothered by the increasing support of sexually destructive lifestyles from the women. I could not believe some of the things they tried to push in the movie. Then, they just had to throw in a gay character. It is always at the end of the movie, when one is generally commited. Why can't there be some kind of attachment rating, like “GF” for gay-free, to warn people. I know to stay away from a movie when the storyline clearly mentions gay lifestyle. How can I and so many others be protected from the brainwashing of Hollywood?
My Ratings: Moral rating: Very Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3½
—Christine, age 33 (USA)
Comments from young people
Neutral—I liked the music, but I found the movie sort of offensive. Basically the whole point of the movie is that it's okay to get pregnant before marriage. That ruined the whole thing.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Liliana, age 11 (Canada)
Positive—I am a christian, but I did not find this movie offensive. I also would like to say that it was filmed in Greece and the “scenery” was not fake. I think that while they could have left a few sex comments out, it was mild and enjoyable. …they could not have taken out the material while still staying to the same plot. They could have made it worse, and while there are many bad movies out there, THIS WAS NOT ONE OF THEM.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Keke, age 13
Neutral—First of all, I had been waiting years to see this movie. When I was in the third grade, my mother went to see the broadway musical with some girlfriends to see it and brought me the soundtrack as a souvenir for me. I was psyched out of my mind and fell in love with the music and beats! I really couldn't get enough explanation about the plot from my mom, so I could link together the vague dialog in the soundtrack and try to imagine it. However, I was not allowed to see the musical because of some “rowdy, racy things you wouldn't understand and it's a little inappropriate” according to my mom.

When I heard there was a movie, I couldn't wait! I took my mom to it and we laughed and tapped our toes in the theater and sometimes even sang along!

This movie was fun—I won't deny it—but the reason this review is neutral is because of the morals. Donna (played amazingly by Meryl Streep) is the mother of soon-to-be-wed Sophie (Amanda Seyfried). And around nine months before her wonderful daughter Sophie was born, Donna had three affairs within a month of each other with three different men. Sophie has always wondered who her dad is, but with three possibilities, Donna keeps her past party girl life stowed away secretly from Sophie. Sophie learns of her mother's romances by reading Donna's old diary and wants her real dad to give her away at her wedding. Yet, the stupid hormone-caused choices from Donna twenty years ago are gracefully breathed over and light-heartedly referenced. Sophie invites all of her potential fathers to her wedding, causing clashes of emotions and pasts coming together in a sweet wedding in a movie. Things are more complicated than Sophie thought they would be. Sophie loves all of her possible fathers and is very confused and tries to confront her fiancee Sky (Dominic Cooper) about her feelings and he doesn't understand. I don't want to give away the rest of the movie… but that's a not-so-brief synopsis to inform you about the somewhat confusing plot of this movie.

Anyway, like I mentioned before, Donna's past is never really confronted negatively except from her own catholic guilt, her friend informs her. There seems no real consequences except for some heart-to-heart talking with the daughter, Sophie, and the movie sort of just glides over the abominations to the Lord by leaving them at “morals,” yet nothing really positively spiritual. The movie was fun! But it celebrates raunchiness and bad choices with lots of fun music. The singing, though, was spectacularly flawless and the voices were truly talented, and the lyrics had not very many objections, except maybe to referring to the summer of affairs Donna lived through. The scenery was real and remarkable, the songs were fun, the acting was cutesy and tongue-in-cheek funny, but morals and spiritual beliefs were ignored. Sophie's three possible fathers are played by Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth, and Stellen Skarsgard, all with pretty good voices and acting.

A fun movie—for a non-christian family—but only a little amusing to a believing family. I'd recommend this to maybe 13-year-olds and up and maybe 11-year-olds and up, if they know what they're facing. Enjoying this movie might be difficult as a Christian, but the soundtrack is worth a buy!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Paul Hunter, age 12 (USA)
Movie Critics
…Frantic pace deflates musical’s charms. …
—Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune
…By turns entertaining and excruciating, ‘Mamma Mia!,’ the jukebox musical that strings together 19 ABBA hits on a narrative thread flimsier than dental floss, had me smiling and wincing, often at the same time. …
—Carrie Rickey, Philadelphia Inquirer
…Is there anything Meryl Streep can't do? ‘Mamma Mia!’ (* * * out of four) is worth the ticket price just to see her belt it out, jump up and down on a bed, dance in platform shoes and slide down a banister. She not only can carry a tune, but her version of the overwrought ‘The Winner Takes It All’ is surprisingly moving. Her chemistry with co-star Pierce Brosnan is palpable. Streep and the rest of the cast appear to be having the time of their lives. …
—USA Today
…This is a CHICK flick. … Chameleon like, Ms. Streep becomes an entirely new person with each role, while still injecting her own persona into the different characterizations. She’s witty, she touches the soul, and always fun to watch. …Several bawdy moments, mostly in the songs, with the ladies making sexual remarks and a couple of times using inanimate objects as phallic symbols. …
—Phil Boatwright, Preview Family Movie and TV Review
…What starts as a young girl's longing for a family she's never known, ends up being a jaded lecture on how conventional families, wisdom and morality are all just downright silly and antiquated concepts. Older women need not mature and learn from their mistakes, just party-hearty and strut your stuff, Mamma Mia! maintains. Poor moral choices don't really have consequences. That's your mother talking. It all works out in the end. Whatever your particular sexual bent or gut-centered desire, go for it. If you wanna shack up and sail away instead of saying ‘I do’ and ‘I will,’ well, just do it. We'll all strip off our shirts, sing and dance, follow our hearts and it'll be A-OK. (Or maybe that's ABBA-OK.)…
—Bob Hoose, Plugged In
…the movie is broad, brassy, often overdramatic and about as subtle as an elephant in harem pants. …the play-to-the-back-of-the house overacting and hollering of lines that may work onstage, especially from Sophie's bridesmaid pals, borders on painful on the big screen. …‘Mamma Mia!’ succeeds on its trip to the big screen because it knows exactly what it is and has no ambitions beyond offering an island escape with some high-energy tunes playing on an endless loop to fuel the good times. …
—Linda Barnard, Toronto Star
…You can have a perfectly nice time watching this spirited adaptation of the popular stage musical and, once the hangover wears off, acknowledge just how bad it is. …
—A. O. Scott, New York Times