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Film / Mamma Mia!

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"Typical, isn't it? You wait 20 years for a dad and then three come along at once."

The 2008 film adaptation of the ABBA Jukebox Musical of the same name.

The plot: 20-year-old Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) is the daughter of single mom and former rock star Donna (Meryl Streep). Sophie is getting married to Sky (Dominic Cooper) and wants her father to be at her wedding; unfortunately, she doesn't know who her father is, as Donna never told her. Donna herself doesn't even know, having slept with three guys right around the time she became pregnant: Sam (Pierce Brosnan), Harry (Colin Firth) and Bill (Stellan Skarsgård). Unbeknownst to her mother, Sophie invites all three possible dads to her wedding to try and find her natural father.

Throw in a Greek island, the other two members of Donna's former girl group (Christine Baranski and Julie Walters) and a dozen ABBA songs, and Hilarity Ensues.

Despite mixed reviews from critics, it was a hit with audiences, earning over $600 million at the worldwide box office. A sequel, entitled Here We Go Again, was released ten years later in July 2018.

Tropes in the film:

  • 20 Minutes into the Past: The film was released in 2008. 20-year-old Sophie is explicitly said to have been conceived "at the end of flower power", i.e. the early The '60s to late The '70s.note  This and the fact that the musical seems to take place during Internet adoption time, what with Sky's advertising venture, clocks the action in at the early to mid The '90s, and the headline of the newspaper that Harry opens up at the beginning of the film places it definitively in 1999.
  • Adaptation Distillation: The film puts more of the plot focus on Donna and Sophie and removes some of the exchanges between Sam, Bill, and Harry and Tanya and Rosie:
    • The film reduces the scene where the three potential dads first meet each other and discuss the last time they visited the island, all 21 years ago. Harry only briefly mentions the coincidence before they're distracted by needing to slow down Bill's boat. In the original stage production, Sam begins to suspect the whole thing is a setup and suggests to Bill that it would be a good story for him to write. This scene is also where Sam takes in the taverna and expresses disbelief that Donna went ahead and built his design; the fact that he designed it is only briefly mentioned in the film during Sophie's party.
    • Harry rants about his unappreciative "other half" throughout the original musical, and admits that he has a man he is already committed to back home. In the film, Harry is apparently single, and falls for one of the wedding guests.
    • In the stage show, Tanya and Rosie have an entire scene to themselves that starts off with them fighting over the single bed in Donna's room, followed by a discussion of how women today seem to be in a rush to get married.
    • The film also heavily reduces Donna's emotional breakdown before "Chiquitita", and completely removes the discovery of Donna's trunk full of relics from their Donna and the Dynamos days (although in the film, Donna does briefly stumble upon an old flyer for a Dynamos show during "Mamma Mia"). In the stage show, Donna bursts into her room ranting about how something from her past has come back to haunt her, and destroys a Dynamos poster that Tanya and Rosie happily show off. In addition, some of the dialogue that follows "Chiquitita" in the stage show is moved to follow "Super Trouper" in the film.
    • Ali and Lisa's lines, "Bastard!" and "Typical man" referring to Sam, and the Ironic Echo of these lines by Tanya and Rosie, are removed in the film.
    • When Sophie first meets her potential dads, she is asked why they were all invited, and she lies that Donna is "always talking about her friends from the old days". In both versions, Sophie admits to Sam that Donna never mentioned him to her, but in the original stage show, this line reveals that Sophie contradicted her lie from earlier, and Sam immediately calls her out on it and gets suspicious.
    • In the stage show, Sophie is so overwhelmed by her dilemma that she sleepwalks to the taverna's courtyard and wakes up screaming at 6:00 AM. In the film, she doesn't sleepwalk, but does mention to Ali and Lisa that she was tossing and turning all night, and only tries to confide in Donna later in the day when she feels something is wrong.
    • Bill and Rosie's interactions are reduced in the film. In the stage show, Rosie admits she remembered Bill and had the hots for him. The day of the wedding, we see Rosie and Bill return from their fishing trip, and Bill reveals that he owns a copy of Rosie's cookbook. This sequence was filmed, but cut. It can be seen on the DVD as a Deleted Scene.
    • The story of Harry and Donna's date is reduced in the film. In the stage show, when Harry gives his check to Donna, she tries to politely decline it, and Harry notes a Déjà Vu of when he bought her the guitar. He also convinces Donna to be more like her old, happy-go-lucky self and even mentions that he hadn't heard her laugh on his trip until that moment. In the film, Harry simply gives Donna the check and runs off before Donna can give it back.
    • Sky's friendship with Pepper and Eddie is almost nonexistent in the film. Donna properly introducing the latter two to Tanya and Rosie as her "general help" ("...Generally, they're no help at all.") is cut, as well as Donna angrily giving them a laundry list of pre-wedding tasks while they're hung over from the party.
    • The film's version of "The Winner Takes It All" ends very softly compared to the original musical, which ends with Donna singing a loud, high C Incredibly Long Note.
    • "I Do, I Do, I Do" is a full number in the original musical, complete with Donna doing a Bouquet Toss, which transitions into "I Have a Dream". In the film, only the opening chorus is performed.
    • While some songs were cut for the film, others were moved earlier or later. "Our Last Summer" is originally a duet between Harry and Donna sung just before "Slipping Through My Fingers", but serves as a replacement for "Thank You for the Music" in the film, sung after "Dancing Queen". In the stage show, "Take A Chance On Me" comes before the wedding, and has Rosie chasing Bill around the church. In the film, it comes after the wedding and Rosie is chasing Bill around the tables at the wedding reception).
  • Adaptation Expansion:
    • A minor subplot about Donna's hotel being built on the site of Aphrodite's fountain isn't present in the stage show.
    • Ali and Lisa's characters are expanded a bit in the film. They have considerably more dialogue than they do in the stage version, including a new scene where they try on their bridesmaid dresses.
    • Donna meeting Ali and Lisa, with the former hinting of their new knowledge of Donna's flings, is also new for the film.
    • The film shows that Sophie has a real talent for drawing, so much that Sam convinces her to pursue it as a career.
    • In the film, Sophie spends an entire afternoon bonding with her potential dads and exploring the island with them. In the stage show, she doesn't see them at all between their first encounter and the bachelorette party.
    • In the film, Bill is shown to be an experienced sailor. He has his own boat and uses it to transport Sam and Harry to the island, and also allows them both to sleep there.
    • In the stage show, Sophie quietly reserves three rooms at the taverna for her potential dads and gives them each a key, to Donna's dismay when she tries to tell them there are no more rooms. The audience never actually sees anyone's room besides Donna's. In the film, Sophie makes the men stay in an abandoned goathouse, now used for storage and located far away from the other rooms, so that they don't run into Donna. When they do, they decide to stay on Bill's boat instead.
    • In the stage show, "Dancing Queen" is sung only by Donna, Tanya, and Rosie as they goof around in their room. The film expands this by having them leave the room and dance their way down to the docks with all the women on the island in tow, making it a full ensemble number. Some amateur stage productions adapt this by having the entire female ensemble on stage during the number.
    • Bill and Harry have more interaction in the film, mainly through a new scene where they nearly have a heart-to-heart before they are interrupted by Rosie, who inadvertently ends up seeing Bill naked.
    • The film adds an additional scene after the wedding, showing the reception, during which Sam makes a toast while singing a new number, "When All is Said and Done". It is also at the end of this scene that the company reprise of "Mamma Mia" is sung (as opposed to during the curtain call in the original musical), which transitions into "I Have a Dream", just as "I Do, I Do, I Do" does in the musical.
  • Adaptation Name Change: Bill Austin becomes Bill Anderson in the film, as he's played by Swedish actor Stellan Skarsgård.
  • Adaptational Nationality: Bill Austin was Australian in the stage version (and later, Southern American in the Broadway and U.S. Tour productions), but became Swedish in the film.
  • Angels Pose: Silhouetted cutouts of Donna and her bandmates abruptly pop up in a Charlie's Angels pose against the sparkling, nighttime ocean backdrop right before delivering an encore performance of ABBA's "Dancing Queen" during the end credits.
  • Artistic License – Traditional Christianity: Judging from how he's vested, if the priest (who has his actor's native Irish accent) isn't Catholic, then he's Orthodox. Either way, you'd expect he would refuse to marry Sam to Donna, as he had just revealed that he had gotten divorced.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: In the film's closing sequence, Donna looks towards the camera and asks the audience, "Do you want another one?!" before singing "Waterloo".
  • Chick Flick: The fifth highest-grossing film of 2008, and targeted at female audiences to boot!
  • Creator Cameo: Benny Andersson appears as a piano player during "Dancing Queen". Bjorn Ulvaeus appears as a member of the Greek Pantheon during "Waterloo". They also make cameos in the sequel.
  • Demoted to Extra: The character Eddie in the stage musical is reduced to a background character in the film and has no lines at all. Pepper is also less prominent in the film, so much that he is never referred to by name on screen. Both characters are completely taken out of the scene where Tanya and Rosie arrive on the island, which is where Pepper is properly introduced to the former and immediately tries to make his move (although both men are present in a deleted portion of the scene available on the DVD release).
  • Deuteragonist: The film is just as much about Donna as it is about Sophie. After all, what director on Earth is going to cast Meryl Streep in a supporting role?
  • Dramatic Ellipsis: Sophie's friends wonder why the diary contains so many "dot dot dot"s, as they are nods to off-screen sexual encounters with three of Sophie's potential fathers. Not explicit details or words, just dots.
    Sophie: Dot, dot, dot - that's what they did in the olden days.
  • Immortal Iconic Car: The film takes place in 2008, but the Greek island of Kalokairi exclusively features cars that are at least 30 years older in order to evoke an image of quaintness.
  • No Indoor Voice: All the women qualify. Peculiarly during the scene where Sophie loudly sings and narrates her mother's diary entries of her past lovers to her friends and some of the passerbys looking at her in shock and confusion.
  • One Dialogue, Two Conversations: After the bachelorette party, both Bill and Harry are trying to tell the other that they found out that they're Sophie's father (at least that's what they think). However, Bill thinks Harry is trying to Come Out to him, while Harry thinks Bill is trying to admit to hooking up Rosie.
  • Scenery Porn: The film makes full use of its "Greek island" setting, with lots of emphasis on the beautiful village and waters.
  • Shirtless Scene:
    • In the film, Sky is shirtless for the entire "Lay All Your Love on Me" scene.
    • Bill has his shirt hanging open the morning after the bachelorette party.
    • Towards the end, Donna rips off Sam's shirt when everyone is doused with water. According to Brosnan, this was improvised by Streep.
    • The "Does Your Mother Know?" scene has Pepper and most of the male ensemble shirtless throughout.
  • Tell Me About My Father: The plot of the first film. Sophie asking her mother Donna who her real father is. It's because of lack of mother-daughter communication that prompts Sophie to locate her three possible fathers and invite them to her wedding.
  • Two Scenes, One Dialogue: After the bachelorette party, Donna/Sophie is fretting to Rosie and Tanya/Ali and Lisa over the three-dads-present issue. Rosie and Tanya/Ali and Lisa decide to take the men out fishing to keep them distracted.


Video Example(s):


Only The Rest Of Your Life

After Sophie decides she doesn't want to get married yet at the altar, Sam proposes to Sophie's mother Donna, who accepts.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (3 votes)

Example of:

Main / WhyWasteAWedding

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