Mamma Mia


What is ‘Mamma Mia’? My mind reels with wild flamencos of cognitive dissonance when I try to imagine how one might go about making a coherent film out of the discography of the Swedish pop group Abba. And yet the womenfolk of the Le Baptiste family watch it on a twice-nightly basis, and as I understand it, similar occurrences are being reported all across the globe. I have heard third-hand accounts of what the story is about and have heard shocking blasts of what apparently constitutes the soundtrack of this curious film. Equipped with these, I shall risk madness and death and attempt to conceive of what the experience of watching Mamma Mia might be like.


The cast of Mamma Mia are bewildered, furtive passengers trapped on a driverless chunder-bus hurtling unstoppably towards an azure ocean of unadulterated atonality. Whither goest thou, bewheeled vomitmobile? Can no argument, human or divine, put a stop to your demonic headlong career? Whither goest thou?


This is either a super-human attempt to look fearlessly into the dark heart and tonsils of humanity, or it is a sick joke, propagated by a shady director that I imagine looks like a sort of telepathic floating Hitler with vicious, nipping crab-claws for hands. Heaven knows what the members of Abba make of this abject travesty of their lives’ work. Perhaps we shouldn’t tell them.


Pierce Brosnan was the Olivier of our age. To see him, in this film, hunched and flabbergasted in a tin bath, yawping and mewing the lyrics to ‘Waterloo’, seemingly at his own spavined calves, was more than I could take. And then Meryl Streep. Meryl heaves and chews on a script so irremediably indigestible you wouldn’t feed it to a dead dog. Throughout the whole proceedings, Meryl wears the kind of face a pustulent adolescent boy might exhibit when, believing himself to be alone, he takes revenge on a cruel and unforgiving world by making sarcastic faces at himself in the mirror. And I can’t blame her.


The plot concerns a mother called Mia (the Mamma Mia of the title), who gives birth a baby and then, assiduously and patiently, watches it grow up. The time grows thick and pasty. The moon revolves in its lunar socket. When the baby turns 18, Mia takes it to an edenic Mediterranean locale and displays it to a picaresque assortment of men and women who may or may not, collectively or individually, be her father. Finally, they ascertain that the father is Colin Firth, who plays a sort of sub-aquatic Darcy, as if in Pride and Prejudice he had deigned never to emerge, erotically, from the green, reedsome depths of the pond, choosing instead to stalk about on its bed, hassling tiddlers. The film ends with Meryl Streep scuttling around a twilit café mouthing the words to Super Trouper, yet remaining mysteriously silent. 


There are some who say that Mamma Mia gives women a sense of solidarity and purpose in this bleak patriarchal wasteland we call Earth. I’m not convinced. I think Emmeline Pankhurst would have preferred South Pacific.


3 Responses to “Mamma Mia”

  1. Joe Says:

    This is surely the way forward: reviewing a film based on what other people have told you about it. It’s like real-life metacriticism. More please.

  2. johnlebaptiste Says:

    Thanks Joe. It’s partly based on what other people have told me; and partly intuitive. Like that TV psychic who can look at babies and tell what they’re thinking, I look at a VHS, DVD or Beat-max, and it yields up its dirty little secrets to me. Usually inaccurately.

  3. oldrope Says:

    Just another excuse in a long line of many for going through the bins out back of Blockbuster. You will never reform Le Baptiste, never

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