Sunday, December 28, 2008

Mama Mia (spoilers)

Have you ever heard of the television show, Who's Your Daddy ?
It was a Fox Reality program that ended after a pathetic six episodes in 2005. I wiki'd the show to find out more about the program. "For the show's premise, an adult who had been put up for adoption as an infant was placed in a room with 25 men, one of whom was their biological father. If the contestant could correctly pick out who was their father, the contestant would win $100,000. If they chose incorrectly, the person that they incorrectly selected would get the $100,000, although the contestant would still be reunited with his or her father."

Why did I open with such an off-topic subject?
Because Who's Your Daddy is quite possibly the best related television show to the Award-Winning flop, Mama Mia.

At first glance, the film seems like a family-friendly, all around sap-fest filled with upbeat songs that should go down in history as one of the most loved films of our generation, right?
Not only does Mama Mia have a not-so-family-friendly plot-line, the music used for the Broadway hit are all the horribly stupid works of ABBA, a Swedish Pop band that was big in the 80's.

The film opens with a sickening pop-ballad sung by Sophie Sheridan (Amanda Seyfried), the main character of the film which can make even the most avid musical-defender squirm with discomfort. (Believe me, I'm one of those.) I'll give it to Amanda, though. She sang the horrid ABBA the best it could be sung, and the lyrics did not do the poor girl justice.
We then lead into Sophie joining her friends, Ali and Lisa, with whom she sings "Honey, Honey" when Sophie reveals she has found her mom's (Donna Sheridan; Meryl Streep) diary. The trio sings of her mother's risque past, specifically three enteries written around the time Sophie was concieved. Not only does Sophie reveal her mom was a whorish girl, she also finds out that she could be the spawn of one of THREE men. Which man, however, is still unknown to Sophie. (Apparently her entire life has comprised of a giant hole that only a daddy can fill? She later tells us that she's had an empty childhood thanks to her father not being around. What a way to thank your single mom for raising you so well.) So, as any good daughter would do, she sends letters to all three men requesting their presence at her wedding the next day. She signs as her mother. :/
Now, Sophie and her mom own a sort of hotel in Greece. (?) Of course, the hotel is falling apart and her mother is fretting about having no money. The three dads show up, (woo?) and find out that SOPHIE sent the letter. (Oh no!) Sophie promptly shoves them into the "goat-house" without any sort of explination as to why they were sent the letter in the first place except "Don't tell mum." Gee, thanks Soph.
While the men are arriving, so are Donna's two whorish friends who refuse to let the past go, Rosie and Tanya (Julie Walters and Christine Baranski). And what do you do when your friends arrive and you've just discovered you have no money? You sing a song, of course! Thus enters, "Money, Money, Money." I have to hand it to Meryl, though. Only she can make an overlong "OHHHHHH" sound good. And, lo and behold! The only-greek-speaking patrons running around know the words too! AH THE WORLD MAKES SENSE.
As the plot drags along (yes, even with up-beat pop songs, this horrible movie lasted a bit too long), we meet Sophie's fiance, Sky, and learn interesting (not) things about her could-be fathers. With her naive notion that whichever father is most like her is -her- father, Sophie confuses herself into oblivion. Donna discovers the Men and sings "Mama Mia!" to express weather or not she has the guts to go talk to these men. With the help of her friends, she finds that she is a coward and wants to rid of these past-lovers immediatley, and kicks them out.
Visibly shaken, she confides in Tanya and Rosie ("Chiquitita") a secret she has kept from everyone - she is uncertain which of the three men is actually Sophie's father. No matter, as Tanya and Rosie rally her spirits by getting Donna to join in with the female staff and islanders accompanying a musical number intended to make her forget her woes. Donna and The Dynamos reclaim their glory days and champion the women of the island in a call to liberation ("Dancing Queen"). More only-greek-speaking women knowing the words to ABBA music! Ahoy!
Next we find Sophie on Bill's (the sea-loving, Greek-nut father-could-be) boat in a wierd almost-flirtatious scene where she learns bits and pieces about each of the men's past through another song- "Our Last Summer". Needless to say, Mum and I were expecting Sophie to jump each of the men's bones. It was creepy. Luckily, Sky (remember? The fiance we've only seen once?) calls for Sophie and she clumbsily jumps into the ocean and swims back to shore. Sky suspects she is up to something, and Sophie explains what she has been up to. Naturally, Sky is pissed. He "Doesn't know who she is anymore" seeing as she's trying to reach out to her father. :/ But, they get over it and sing "Lay All Your Love on Me" in passionate harmony. Ew. To the audience's relief, Sky is whisked away to his Bachelor party. Wait, what just happened?
We skip forward to the evening, where Sophie is celebrating her last night as a single female, where her mother and friends (mother's friends, not Sophie's. We haven't seen either of those girls since their trio at the beginning of the movie.) sing "Super Trouper" while wearing gaudy 70's jumpsuits. Woo-wee. The fathers stumble upon the party and are thus run over by hundreds of girls who, apparently, are man-deprived. They tie the men up (spare Sam, he escaped to speak with Sophie) and sing the hormone-dripping "Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (Man after midnight)" while, basically, stripping the over-50 men. Sam and Sophie speak of Sam's love for Donna. FINALLY he puts two-and-two together and realizes he COULD BE HER FATHER. And he offers to walk her down the aisle the next day. She agrees and then runs away to find Harry (the almost-gay father) and ask him if he ever watned children. He claims "If I had a daughter, I would spoil her rotten." Through a painfully over-acted "OH!" moment, Harry realizes he, too, could have been her father. Again, the father-could-be offers himself to walk her down the aisle. Again, she says "Sure!" This time, she gets pulled away by the mob of women and is forced to table-dance with Bill, the only father she has yet to speak to. Finally, Bill reveals that the old woman who gave Donna the money to invest in her Villa was his Great Aunt Sofia, and Sophie guesses she must be her namesake. That's it! Bill must be her father! Bill clambors off the table in disarray and Sophie is just happy to have possibly found her father.
But her happiness is short-lived as Sam and Harry each tell her they must be her dad and will give her away ("Voulez-Vouz"). A shocked Sophie can't tell them the truth and, overwhelmed by the consequences of her action, faints on the dance floor.
Cut to the morning, and we see Donna freaking out about the men. She thought she got rid of them! But no worry! Her friends will rid of them for her, so she can spend her time with her daughter. Donna confronts Sophie in the courtyard, mistakenly believing Sophie wants the wedding stopped. Sophie angrily says that all she wants is to avoid her mother's mistakes and storms off. An upset Donna is accosted by Sam, full of fatherly concern (bleh) at Sophie getting married so young. Donna dresses him down, and both realize they still have feelings for each other and sing another passionate duo, "SOS" full of sickening harmonies. If they had to choose a singing dad, why didn't they get a guy who could SING? One confusing cut later, we find Rosie on Bill's boat, trying to woo the men into leaving. Bill and Harry confide in each-other that they could be Sophie's father, but are interrupted by the already mentioned Rosie. To add to the discomfort, Bill is naked and has two eyes tattooed to his butt-cheeks. :d We then cut to Tanya in a paddle boat with one of the men (can't remember which) who dives out of the boat to escape. Pepper, the funky black kid who we've met once at a bar scene earlier in the movie, suddenly gets all hot n' bothered for Tanya. He's an awkward looking fellow, so the next dance-and-song number, "Does Your Momma Know," is really quite funny. He tries to be 'sexy' but pulls off the entire number as 'IwishIwereyouragesoIcouldwooyoubutI'makidsoIlooksilly.' Sky comes up and confronts Sophie about the Dad thing and admits he put his "life on hold for [her]." That he wanted to travel the world but found himself so in love with Sophie that he couldn't leave her behind. Mushymushywoowoo.
Another abrupt cut later, we find ourselves in Sophie's room, where Donna is helping her Daughter get ready for the wedding that should be happening later that night. Donna sings a sweet song about losing her daughter to the hands of time ("Slipping Through My Fingers"). Had it not been for the random "Let's turn to the camera and sing for a few seconds!" moment at the end, I think the number would have been moving. But, alas, once again, cheesy choreography ruined the bit. Now, utterly moved by her mom, Sophie decides that her MOM should be the one who walks her down the aisle, and tells Donna such. (But wait, didn't she already ask Sam, Harry and Bill? Hmm :/)
As the staff and bridesmaids accompany Donna and Sophie to the chapel (On a Donkey, no less XD), Sam lies in nervous wait. Donna waves the wedding party on, and he begs Donna to talk. She cuts him short, however, revealing the deep pain she felt over losing him by singing a confusing bit- "The Winner Takes it All." (Let's just say, Mum and I found ourselves going "Wait, what?" When Meryl suddenly turns the song's focal point on her, and not her daughter. There was no real change in emotion, nor a change in...well, anything, when Meryl suddenly started singing about herself, and not Sophie.) The number is a bit long, and very unfocused. Tra-lala. A few moments later, she rushes up the steps to the chapel.
Now, you have to remember that neither of the women thinks the other knows why the three could-be fathers are on the island, much less attending the wedding. Donna, all choked up from her Daughter's wedding, suddenly blurts out that Harry, Sam OR Bill could be Sophie's father. (A comical response can be found with the Priest) To no surprise, Sophie is moved by the sudden truthfullness and admits SHE invited them. (Woahnoes!)
To no one's surprise, Sophie calls the wedding off. In the chapel. With the priest. And...well. Everyone. Donna actually almost gets mad. Sophie explains that she doesn't feel ready yet, and wants to travel with Sky instead. She says the wedding can wait until they come back. Sky is estatic and kisses her. It appears that preparations have been in vain until Sam steps in with the final curveball: he proposes to Donna. Of course, Donna accepts ("I do, I do, I do, I do"). The movie would be able to end with everyone being happy and their ears still in tact. BUT WAIT, THERE'S MORE!
AWKWARDCUT! We're now at Donna's wedding reception (the entire set for this piece is overly surreal. I feel like someone plastered a tile-pattern of a single photo of lights in the background), where Sam reveals he has loved Donna for 21 years (even though he's been married, had two kids, hasn't seen Donna for 20 of those years, etc) through a song that is found only in the movie version. "When All Is Said and Done." Again, why couldn't we have gotten a guy who could SING? Rosie, tossing all her earlier lesbian-vibes aside, attempts to make a coy play for Bill ("Take a Chance On Me"). It's overly awkward and probably could have been cut from the film without any repercussions. All the couples (Including Harry and some guy. So, he is gay?) present proclaim their love and, magically, water from Aphrodite's fountain of love bursts through the crack in the courtyard at Villa Donna. ("Mama Mia!" reprise)
The story concludes as Sophie and Sky bid farewell to Skopelos island and sail away to a new life together ("I Have a Dream reprise"), one full of hope and promise and horrible soprano breathiness.
During the credits, the older trio (Donna, Tanya and Rosie) don their 70's attire and sing Dancing Queen with the cast. The men join in in THEIR 70's jumpsuits and sing "Waterloo," thus burning both our ears AND eyes. Finally (and yes, I mean FINALLY) Amanda closes the horrid show with "Thank You For The Music."
I believe the first thing Grandpa said when we finished the movie was, "I don't quite understand why everyone thought that was so amazing," followed by Mom's, "It was horrible," and my own, "That was not Meryl Streep's best work," concluded with a family laugh.
Poor guys at Eagles Trace, though. They have to watch it again on Saturday *snork*

The film, in short, was awkwardly cut and horribly choreographed. Not to mention the ear-bleeding ABBA music (Seriously. How can you string together so many shallow pop songs from the 80's and attempt to make a good film/musical/show out of it? I mean, the only reason why Across the Universe worked was because The Beatles are a talented band and over half of their music is trippy enough to relate to ANYTHING drug-like and make sense. That, and they wrote about what was going on at the time, and that was what the film was about--that time.). The plot was lacking moral wholesomness (My mom was a whore and doesn't know who my dad is, so I'm gonna play Who's Your Daddy Home Edition) to be considered a "Fun Family Film," and the acting was lackluster. Who knew a musical could be so badly done? I sincerely hope Meryl jumps back onto something a bit more dignified, so she can get her name back where it belongs, poor bugger.

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