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  • Writer's pictureElena Caldera

Mamma Mia!: A Film That Celebrates Women

As I'm listening to the Mamma Mia! soundtrack I can't help but reminisce of my childhood love for this movie. I would sing to the top of my lungs 'Dancing Queen' and one day aspire to live on a small island surrounded by the pearly blue seas of Greece. Released in 2008, the charismatic blockbuster musical is still talked about despite being fourteen years old. Today through social media, we can see the rise of fashion trends inspired by the characters' fashion (especially that of Sophie, our protagonist) and trending audios from the soundtrack. The hype of Mamma Mia in the 2000s was huge, competing with more “sophisticated” movies like Batman: The Dark Knight. Why are audiences, specifically women, still attracted to such a nonsensical movie?

The poster of the musical and film, Mamma Mia, featuring the main characters.

Certainly Mamma Mia is not known for its plot; though entertaining, it is full of plot holes, random or distracting dancing sequences, and absurd characters. But if you come into this movie with critical eyes then you'll be missing out on the great fun that is just vibing with it. What makes Mamma Mia stand out from your typical blockbuster films is that it is a movie which simply serves as a means to have a good time. The saturated colors, bright visuals, glowy summer beach, and the catchiness of ABBA songs bring happiness that is almost impossible not to be consumed by. For me, the music is what elevates the movie, definitely not the exaggerated acting or average script. No other film can replicate the utter glee and feels you get when watching a bunch of people singing and dancing to Voulez-Vous with disco lights flaring around the chaotic night.

The musicality, happy cinematography, and colorful setting are nailed by Mamma Mia, not in a technical sense, but in a sense of transmitting joy! Yet there's another respectable element of Mamma Mia: the pure celebration of women. Out of the three male romance interests for Donna (the mother of the protagonist), none of them aggressively compete for her love or demonstrate traits of toxic masculinity. Furthermore, Sophie's fiancée even admits to thinking of his bachelorette party as “the last night before the greatest adventure of his life (his marriage with Sophie)” instead of the problematic joke that a man's bachelorette party is their last night of freedom. Women in this film are treated kindly, their friendship and companionship are beautifully displayed. A huge difference between films in the 2000s movies (e.i. Mean Girls) that loved to pit women against each other.

My favorite best friend trio were the Dynamos: Donna, Tanya, and Rosie. These best friends and ex band members, were depicted like authentical friends. While movies typically tend to shy away from making older women characters fun and carefree, the Dynamos are far from reserved and sane women! All of them are in their 50’s but are arguably the most hyperactive characters. They like to party, they want to find love, and behave like teenagers. The movie doesn't look down at this behavior, it actually praises it. Yes, they're wild, carefree, and teen spirited, but they're also wise and sensible. Older women in the media are always depicted as the wise mentor as though that is all there is to older women. Having fun shouldn't be restricted to teens and young adults. Whatever stage you are in life, you should live it as you please. Every woman out there, no matter their age, can have a good time and be a Dancing Queen!

Mamma Mia will maintain its status and appreciation for more years to come, at least that is my prediction. The safe space for women of all ages to feel comfortable and cherished is what attracts female audiences to this absolute blast of a movie. For me, Mamma Mia will always have a place in my heart. It is an experience, impossible to finish it without having a smile on your face. Critics of great cinema like to bash on the ridiculousness of Mamma Mia, but what is the importance of technicality? In the greater scheme of things, a movie that evokes true happiness and moves an audience, is the most successful attribute a film can reach. If you haven't watched this musical, this is your call to do it!

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