Mr. Movie

Male singers drag down 'Mamma Mia!'

True confession time.

I am — and always have been — an Abba fan.

Abba founder Benny Andersson’s music is complex, impossibly tight and the melodies and counter melodies are stunning. Bjorn Ulvaeus’ lyrics are intelligent but forgettable.

Catherine Johnson wrote a play that loosely wraps Abba’s music and lyrics around a story. Though I’ve never seen Mamma Mia!, people tell me it is incredible.

But live plays are close and personal. There is give-and-take between the actors and the audience. You don’t have that in a movie setting. Without that interaction, most movie actors don’t have the skill to build character depth.

In the case of Mamma Mia! the phenomenon produces something akin to cardboard.

Meryl Streep is cast as a woman who had three lovers. One of them fathered her daughter. Desperate to know who daddy is, the daughter invites the three men to her wedding.

Streep and co-stars Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth, Stellan Skarsgard, Christine Baranski and Julie Walters sing their own songs.

You will be blown away by Streep’s singing and dancing talent and that of Baranski and Walters.

Streep is in incredible shape and bounces about the set like a teenager. She also brings down the house with a phenomenal version of The Winner Takes it All toward the end of the film.

The guys are another matter, and Brosnan is the worst. When singing S.O.S. I couldn’t decide if he was begging to be rescued from the song or the movie.

Personally — I would have chosen the movie.

Mr. Movie rating: 2 stars

Rated PG-13 for mature themes. It opens today at the Columbia Mall 8 and at Fairchild Cinemas.

Mr. Movie rating scale

5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen

4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it's your type of movie.

3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on video.

2 stars to 1 star: Don't bother.

0 stars: Speaks for itself