“Mamma Mia!” – Joanna Langfield reviews

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Even now, several days after seeing the thing, I still can’t decide if this is 1. a disaster of astounding proportions or 2. a hoot and a half.

The miraculous Meryl Streep stars in this crudely uncinematic adaptation of the popular Abba-inspired pop stage musical. As the struggling single mother, faced with singling out the father of her only child on the eve of the young girl’s wedding, Streep plunges in to the role of Donna, the Greek Island hotelier, with gusto and an embarrassing pair of overalls. And, because it’s just Streep being Streep, she manages to not only bob to the surface, but, in some moments, actually captivate.

As for the rest of the gang, it’s a decidedly mixed bag: even some of the most gorgeous backdrops on earth look flat and stagey. It’s not Christine Baranski’s fault she’s been asked to play the part of the ripe rich lady time and time again; the wonderful Julie Walters is a barrel of fun as a mousy third wheel. The virile Stellan Skarsgard and adorable Colin Firth don’t have to do much to entertain the eye, but poor Pierce Brosnan is forced to, literally, sing for his supper and, to put it kindly, this is not a pretty thing.

And, speaking of forced, some might enjoy the “irresistible” closing credit scenes, where the adult cast dresses up in ‘70’s spandex and sings some of Abba’s enduring hits. I found my jaw on the floor of the cinema, in the old shock and awe that mature people of repute would be asked to not just do such a thing, but to look like they are also having the time of their lives. But then, staring in disbelief, I also started to hum along. And now, all I can do is pray. That I can get some of those damn songs out of my head.

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Joanna Langfield (Archived Contributor)

Her voice is heard throughout the 50 states and around the world by more than one million listeners on her syndicated radio programs: Joanna Langfield’s People Report and Video and Movie Minute. She’s also seen and heard as a regular contributing commentator on CNN International, CNN, Fox News and CNBC. In print, her articles have been published in such high profile magazines as Video Review and McCall’s. Joanna Langfield is known for taking interviews to another level with probing looks at celebrities’ insights rather than just their latest projects. As a result, she’s secured a niche among the nation’s premier interviewers and movie critics. Joanna began her career on the production staff of a local Boston television station. She then focused her energies towards radio and produced talk shows at WMEX-AM in Boston. After moving to New York, she became executive producer at WMCA-AM for talk show personalities Barry Gray and Sally Jessy Raphael. She began hosting a one-minute movie review spot which, in turn, led to her top-rated weekend call in-show, The Joanna Langfield Show (1980-83). Joanna moved to WABC-AM to host The Joanna Langfield Show on Saturday nights from 9:00pm to midnight. It was the highest rated show in its time slot. From 1987-1989, Joanna hosted Today’s People on the ABC Radio network, which was fed daily to over 300 stations around the country. She also appeared on WABC-TV as a regular on-air contributor. In 1989, Joanna formed her radio production company, Joanna Langfield Entertainment Reports, to syndicate her radio reports. She is considered to be one of the top authoritative commentators on the entertainment industry. Read Lagfield's recent articles below. For her Women On Film archive, type "Joanna Langfield" in the Search Box (upper right corner of screen).