2008-08-08 / Entertainment/Lifestyles

MovieScope

'Mamma Mia' - Meryl's Musical Mindlessness
Review By Robert Snyder

Maybe the mark of a talented and intelligent actress is to play stupidity… convincingly. If so, Meryl Streep is brilliant.

Starring as dopey Donna in the film version of international hit musical, "Mamma Mia!" Streep is a hippie freespirit so dumb that she doesn't know who fathered her now 21-year-old daughter, Sophie (Amanda Seyfried). For a while, she is even unaware that the three paternal prospects are staying at her Greek island hotel.

On the eve of her wedding, Amanda has invited Sam (Pierce Brosnan), Harry (Colin Firth) and Bill (Stellan Skarsgard) to the ceremony after she found their names in a section of Mom's diary dated two decades and a year prior. They all appear to have done the dirty deed to Donna, which means one of them must be the one, of whom Sophie wants to have give her hand away in matrimony. They arrive in the belief that Donna wrote the invitation.

However, Mom is busy being diverted by singing Abba songs with two old chums, Tanya (Christine Baranski) and Rosie (Julie Walters), with whom she once shared the stage in an Abbaesque girl group. The fathers-three sing also, though not as well; in particular, Brosnan whose strained face shows constipated pain while he crooks out Abba's aptly titled, "SOS."

Directed by first-time filmmaker Phyllida Lloyd, who did those chores in one of the successful theater renditions from Catherine Johnson's "original" musical book, "Mamma Mia!" bares a strangely striking resemblance to a 1968 farce called, "Buono Sera, Mrs. Campbell." That non-musical romp is more salacious. The wayward mother (Gina Lollabrigia), an ex- Italian World War II prostitute gets caught in a three-way child support scam, in which the former GI lovers (Peter Lawford, Phil Silvers and Telly Savalas) return to the sexual scene of the crime with their wives for an Army reunion.

But "Mamma Mia!" dances away from such odious things as child support or DNA or reality.

Here, the mood is light, frothy and exuberant as the cast and crew celebrate the joys of one girl's confused multiple fatherhood and everyone's non-accountability.

If the world were really like this, TV's Maury Povich would be out of a job.

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