“Mamma Mia!” – Susan Granger reviews

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Meryl Streep is amazing! There is nothing this gifted actress cannot do – and she’s a sensational choice to bring ABBA’s irresistible frolic to the screen.

Set on a sunny Greek island, it revolves around bride-to-be Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) who yearns to have her father give her away. Problem is: her feisty, free-spirited mother Donna (Meryl Streep) has never told her who he is. So when Sophie discovers her mother’s diary and realizes that, when was conceived, Donna was involved with three different men – Sam (Pierce Brosnan), Harry (Colin Firth) and Bill (Stellan Skarsgard) – she secretly invites them to her wedding. Chaos ensues and complications inevitably arise, yet Donna and her wickedly zany BFFs (best-female-friends Christine Baranski and Julie Walters) sing and dance their way through the celebration.

Unfortunately, writer Catherine Johnson and theater/opera director Phyllida Lloyd haven’t a clue about musical movie-making, nor does cinematographer Haris Zambarloukos. And if this genre is to enjoy the revival that was trumpeted when “Chicago” won Oscars, stage veterans must hone their cinematic credentials. Imagination must soar and the camera must swirl along with the dancers, and if the role demands warbling, singing talent is essential. Rex Harrison may have ‘faked it’ in “My Fair Lady” but Pierce Brosnan is no Rex Harrison; his foray into musical comedy ranks with Clint Eastwood’s “Paint Your Wagon.”

On the other hand, when Streep belts “Dancing Queen,” you just gotta move; her “The Winner Takes It All” breaks your heart; and her “Slipping Through My Fingers” causes misty eyes. And it’s brilliant using colorful locals as a glitzy Greek chorus. On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Mamma Mia!” is an uplifting, finger-snapping, energetic 8. It’s awfully good, meaning “Money, Money, Money” at the box-office.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.