Bad Movies We Love: Mamma Mia!


Mamma Mia! is a celebrated American film where Meryl Streep tries to convince you she's brain-damaged for 108 minutes. She has no guess as to who birthed her blonde, blue-eyed, ABBA-squawking daughter, but she'll storm about a sunny Grecian isle until we all agree to forget she's doing this for an obese stack of cash. What a Swedish fishy musical this is! It gives Stockholm Syndrome to thinking people. Let's watch it 30 times, channel Agnetha and Anni-Frid using ethereal harmonies and beige lipstick, and recount the five greatest musical numbers in this insane, aquamarine spectacle of light, sound and sheer embarrassment.

I nearly forgot: The youthful star of Mamma Mia is Amanda Seyfried, who leads this week's new release In Time with a "futuristic look" (code for "Bridget Fonda haircut"). That movie looks unbearable, but Seyfried makes Mamma Mia a pleasure using her Tila Tequila-shaped head and physique. She's supported by an exhausted cast of veterans wind-burnt by time and sitcom pilots. Together they're a mysteriously savory blend, and they create a movie that is pretty much Glee for Adderall addicts, or Kidz Bop for chocolate-crazed, Fabio-literate adults. The ridiculous paternity narrative is irrelevant -- I'm hopped up on pure ABBA euphoria after re-watching Mamma Mia!, and here are the five covers worth revisiting on this droopy Wednesday.

5. Christine Baranski's husky, libidinous "Does Your Mother Know"

Christine Baranski has graced the pages of Bad Movies We Love before, but here she comes into her own as a barky she-wolf with a legendary mandible. In the hard-veined hands of Baranski, ABBA's "Does Your Mother Know" bursts with powerful horniness. Watch as this goody-goody Good Wife player juts and thrusts with the chutzpah of a much older raptor.

4. Amanda Seyfried and Dominic Cooper's "Lay All Your Love on Me"

"LAYLOM" is ABBA's secretly nastiest jam, and the most unsettling. The chrous's druid incantation doubles as a sex-slave shanty, and these two oiled-up lovers chirp it with gusto. Well, Seyfried does. Dominic Cooper hoots like a nervous chorus boy trying to impress his sophomore girlfriend, but Seyfried's Nordic glee gives way to sexy bliss. Don't go wasting your emotions on him, Amanda!

3. Julie Walters' utterly irrelevant "Take a Chance on Me"

Well after Mamma Mia! has given up on plot and sense, Julie Walters gallops up on a table and begs a dude to love her. This is just like life for many of us. ABBA's entrancing, rolling beat is not as hypnotic when it's shoehorned into this already-crammed runtime, but Julie's confused rendition is unforgettable, for better or for worse.

2. Meryl Streep spends her "Money, Money, Money" on singing lessons and this year's overalls.

"Money, Money, Money" belongs in My Fair Lady or another Lerner & Loewe jamboree, not an ABBA musical full of evocative disco mood pieces. As the movie kicks off, Meryl charges around her island estate like Ricardo Montalban and gripes about how poor she is. This is another farfetched idea, in case you're keeping track. Please bear witness as Sophie's Choice's Polish pixie has to choose between dignity and insanity while a tantalizing Swedish beat plays the odious kommandant in charge of her fate. Spoiler: The Europop wins. Throw your dignity in the back of a train car and watch as your inhibitions go chug-chug-chugging away!

1. Pierce Brosnan's so-so-so-so-so-so-so-aptly titled "S.O.S."

Daniel Craig revived James Bond's sexuality even though we didn't know it had withered away long ago. Who ruined 007's naughty streak, you ask? Hint: Here, Pierce Brosnan yelps the lyrics to "S.O.S.," and it seems like his last hit of Viagra is on the line. Remington Steele is just a bizarre choice for a singing part in any film, and when Brosnan's belting power notes like a balladeer, it's hard to watch. Hell, it's hard to live. I won't burden you with the video -- the audio track of his weirdly accented, gurgly rendition is enough to give you license to kill yourself. Because your landlocked, deprived existence can't get better than this.

Awful. And incredible.

Follow Louis Virtel on Twitter.

Follow Movieline on Twitter.


  • topsyturvy says:

    Streep works the HELL out of a scarf/shawl in "The Winner Takes It All."

  • miles silverberg says:

    I'll go even further to say that Mamma Mia is NOT a bad movie!
    ...that is, until the closing credits when the cast appears in Disco/Elvis garb and start singing more ABBA and clumsily ad-libbing for no other reason than to look foolish. Which they do.
    But during the actual movie, stage director Phyllida Lloyd does an admirable job of directing traffic, and, in spite of a threadbare plot shamelessly stolen from Buona Sera, Mrs. Campbell, manages to keep the whole thing consistent to its own universe, which is part of what makes the movie endlessly watchable. For all the mediocrity on the page, what's on the screen is pretty much seamless. And the water looks soooooo inviting...