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.