The Hollywood Reporter
(Jun 29, 2008, by Ray Bennett) Bottom Line: My, my, clear the aisles. This is the winner that will take it all!
No matter how many blockbusters there are, Universal Pictures' screen version of the global hit stage musical "Mamma Mia!" is the most fun to be had at the movies this or any other recent summer.
Teenage boys may be glued to the latest action adventure, but the rest of the family will be having a rollicking good time and dancing in the aisles to Swedish pop group ABBA's irresistible songs. It's a delightful piece of filmmaking with a marvelous cast topped by Meryl Streep in one of her smartest and most entertaining performances ever.
After its world premiere in London on Monday, the film opens in the U.K. on July 4 and in North America on July 18. It will surely follow the stage show around the world in pleasing audiences and coining what one of the infectious songs celebrates: "Money, Money, Money."
Credit goes to the original show's creators, producer Judy Craymer, director Phyllida Lloyd and writer Catherine Johnson, for seeing their vision through to such a polished and enjoyable picture. Hanging a tale of a woman whose daughter night have been fathered by one of three attractive men on a bunch of ABBA songs sounds simple, but its simplicity is as deceptive as the masterfully crafted songs themselves.....
Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth and Stellan Skarsgard, as the possible dads, show up on the island where Donna is readying the wedding, helped by her two best pals (Julie Walters and Christine Baranski). The scene is set for songs, dancing and romance, all staged brilliantly, with many energetic and colorful performers, and beautifully shot.
The Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus songs have memorably sturdy lyrics that the filmmakers weave with great skill into their story. All of the players perform with gusto including Skarsgard, ex-007 Brosnan and noted Mr. Darcy Firth who, far from embarrassing themselves, sing well and deserve high praise for being such good sports.
Seyfried (from TV's "Big Love") and Cooper ("The History Boys") make appealing juvenile leads while Walters and Baranski contribute greatly to the film's good-natured comedy. Each has a big solo number with Baranski belting out "Does Your Mother Know?" to a randy beach bum and Walters entreating a reluctant groom with "Take a Chance on Me."
Streep is sensationally good in rendering the whole yarn credible and in making dramatically moving songs such as "Slipping Through My Fingers," sung to her departing daughter, and "The Winner Takes It All" to a lost love. It's no stretch to think of her performance in Oscar terms, ranking with previous musical winners such as Liza Minnelli, Barbra Streisand and Catherine Zeta-Jones.
And when Streep teams with Walters and Baranski for dynamic and crowd-pleasing numbers such as "Mamma Mia!" "Dancing Queen" and "Super Trouper," there's not an audience anywhere that won't be smiling.