DVD: Mamma Mia!


Theatrical Release Date: 07/18/2008
DVD Release Date: 12/16/2008
Director: Phyllida Lloyd
Cast: Amanda Seyfried, Meryl Streep, Pierce Brosnan, Stellan Skarsgård, Colin Firth, Christine Baranski, Julie Walters, Dominic Cooper

The Film:


There’s probably a reason I missed “Mamma Mia!” in theaters (the exclamation point is for fun!). It’s not a hatred of musicals – I actually like them very much. It’s not a fear of seeing stage work being translated to film – I’ve seen plenty worse (and plenty better). It’s that the happy, touchy-feely, sunshine music of Abba (which I like on occasion) would obviously translate to a happy, touchy-feely film – which I’m only in the mood for every other full moon or so. As such, I can say that I was moderately entertained by the whole effort revolving around a girl’s hope to discover which of three men is her father in time for her wedding, all set to Abba songs, but nothing wowed me … at least not in a good way.

I’ll start with the good stuff. Amanda Seyfried and Meryl Streep were fantastic and embodied their characters to the smallest detail. Both ably handled the musical numbers and were the backbone of the film. Christine Baranski and Julie Walters made a great set of best friends for Streep and the trio of men at the center of the baby-daddy mystery had a nice chemistry between each other.

However, the strapping young lad (Dominic Cooper) playing the groom-to-be was more body than mind and Pierce Brosnan’s singing voice is something akin to the mating call of a water buffalo. Worst of all, many of the musical numbers come off like surreal music videos with only the barest connection between the song lyrics and the film’s story.

It wasn’t my cup of tea but I know there are plenty of people out there who will thoroughly enjoy this escapist romp and because the filmmakers and cast (a few voices notwithstanding) didn’t make a complete mess of it all, I feel quite confident in giving “Mamma Mia!” a 3 out of 5.

If you’re looking for a more accomplished marriage between a band’s song catalog and a cinematic experience, try “Across the Universe“. If all you want is sunshine, Greek scenery and a heartfelt reworking of Abba songs, feel free to check “Mamma Mia” out.

The DVD:



While there’s nothing in particular to rave about with the 2-Disc Special Edition DVD of “Mamma Mia!”, that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth your money if you’re a fan of the film. All the necessary extras are present and the behind the scenes looks concerning the efforts to make the music come to life are entertaining. For big fans of Abba, the musical the film is based on and/or the film, the sing-a-long version that was released into theaters late in its run is also available, adding to the fun. Really, the only reason I didn’t give the DVD another point on the ratings scale was the lack of cast commentary. A film this loaded with notable actors and personalities needs a cast commentary to really cement the DVD’s features.

Audio/Video:

Dolby Digital 5.1 sound. Anamorphic Widescreen 2:40:1.

Subtitles:

English (for the hard of hearing); Spanish; French.

Languages:

English; Spanish; French.

Extra Features:


Commentary with Director Phyllida Lloyd

—– Phyllida Lloyd has a history of stage direction and was a smart choice to helm this ship. Her commentary is a little dry but full of interesting information and anecdotes about making the film.

Sing-A-Long Versionspan>

—– This feature enables huge subtitles containing the song lyrics for all the musical numbers that anyone who saw this version in theaters knows full well about. I suppose if you, or a group of friends, are either big Abba fans or inebriated enough, this is a feature that will get more mileage out of the DVD. Although I’m a grinch, I can see why people would like this and am very happy to see it presented on the DVD, it helps set it apart from the rest of the masses.

Deleted Scenes

—– I’m actually a little surprised theses are on here and it’s the worst extra included on the DVD. Half of the 8 minutes are very boring setups of the three possible fathers and the other half is just as useless. If there weren’t any deleted scenes cut purely for pacing or time, rather than their entertainment value, I implore filmmakers to feel free and leave them off the DVD.

Deleted Musical Number: “The Name of the Game”

—– Exactly what the title implies … this is the only “deleted scene” that should have been included.

The Making of Mamma Mia!

—– A very decent featurette regarding taking the musical and bringing it to the screen. It focuses on the director, musical director Martin Lowe and molding the cast into musical mavens. There’s also a good ten minutes spent talking about the major cast members and their characters.

Anatomy of a Musical Number: “Lay All Your Love On Me”

—– A look at all the work and behind-the-scenes efforts that go into this scene. It’s an interesting piece but I’m not sure I’m a fan of seeing the finished product in a musical being so deconstructed, it sort of removes the mystique.

Becoming a Singer

—– This focuses on the hard work it took the cast and crew to turn actors into singers. For some, it was quite easy because they have naturally good singing voices. For others (and I’m talking to you Brosnan), all the help in the world only managed to make sure their less than stellar warbling stayed consistently poor. Even still, seeing the actors voice their trepidation about undertaking such a humbling effort made this feature fun to watch.

Behind the Scenes with Amanda

—– A fun, quick segment (4 minutes) with Amanda Seyfried taking us behind the scenes as she gets to the set, goes through make-up and goofs around on-set. Even in this short amount of time, it’s easy to see why she is such a perfect fit for the role.

On Location in Greece

—– Talks about shooting in Greece – how much it fits with the songs and especially how much the cast enjoyed spending the shoot there.

“Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!” Music Video

—– What do you think this is? Actually, it’s kind of fun as the actors play around in a sound stage “recording” the song and watching clips from the film.

Björn Ulvaeus Cameo

—– An extended clip of the cameo the Abba member that was included in the credits.

The Sobering Conclusion:


Fans of the film will definitely want to pick up a copy of the DVD. While the production was a bit too whimsical and light-hearted for me, if you know a ray of sunshine and you’ve been meaning to give them a DVD, I could see this being the one. It has all the basic extra features one would want and it’s just a good, Abba-filled time. For those of you not wanting those things, I doubt you even bothered to read this review. I’m good either way.