Mamma Mia: A Movie to Laugh At (Not With)

Firth keeps saying things like, “I’d quite like to freshen up” and “Might I be shown my room now?” and “There wouldn’t by any chance happen to be a trouser press down here?” No doubt you are correcting me in your mind: “Not gay. Just British.” I’ve forgotten so please remind me: what exactly is the difference?

There are times when Mamma Mia makes Hairspray seem like Magnum Force by comparison. I have no reason to suspect Meryl Streep is a gay man, but did RuPaul write her dialogue? Wielding a power drill, she is asked if she’s “getting any,” at which point she powers up the drill and says, “Down boy!” She also worries about “A crack in my courtyard,” but do we really want to hear about her crack?

Much of the talk is far worse. Did I really hear the words, “I won’t be muzzled by an ejaculation?” And, “Harry’s talked Tanya into water sports!” and “He’s all mouth and no trousers” and “Get the meat out of the heat”? Still, I could praise all of this and more if only the movie had provided me with a warning to avert my eyes before it provided a shuddery glimpse of Skarsgaard’s butt cheeks.

The Streep character and her battle-ax friends (Julie Walters, Christine Baranski) sing into vacuum cleaners and hair dryers in Dancing Queen, then strut around in pyramid formation. Everyone and everything is “fabulous” or “gorgeous” or “a little minx,” and at a, well, climactic moment a geyser busts out of the floor and bare-chested boys revel in it, in slow motion. Walters is definitely onto something when she says, “It’s very Greek.” Really, what kind of movie borrows its plot from the 80s miniseries Lace? All that is missing is a scene in which the bride asks, “Which one of you three bitches is my father?”

Mamma Mia

Directed by Phyllida Lloyd

Starring: Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth, Stellan Skarsgaard, Meryl Streep, Julie Walters, Christine Baranski

2 stars/ 4

108 minutes/Rated PG-13