Mamma Mia!

  • Review Date: July 15, 2008
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Musical
  • Release Year: 2008
  • Running Time: 108 minutes

Common Sense Media says

Upbeat, silly ABBA musical is flimsy but fun.
  • Review Date: July 15, 2008
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Musical
  • Release Year: 2008
  • Running Time: 108 minutes





What parents need to know

Positive messages

Allusions to infidelity, abandonment, and sexual indiscretions. A daughter lies to her mother about inviting three men from her past to her wedding. Otherwise, truly earnest and warmhearted..


Men and women yell at each other about past disagreements and misunderstandings; a mother and daughter argue.


Sexual innuendo in song lyrics and conversations (for example, a hand drill is waved around in a suggestive way to signal sexual intercourse). One character is very open about her cougar-like sensibilities, preying on a younger man -- and vice-versa. Lots of reminiscing about sexual escapades of the past. One scene shows a man's naked backside, though not in a sexual context. A sex toy is seen briefly during a dance sequence. A quick kiss between two men; one key character turns out to be gay.


Fairly tame, with a few uses of "ass," "crap," and "frickin'."


A few labels: Duke University T-shirt, logos for Greek taxis. And, of course, the entire movie helps promote ABBA songs (and also the Broadway musical the movie is based on).

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Lots of alcoholic libations, but they're only consumed in social settings. Some cigar smoking; references to weed.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this lightweight, sun-kissed musical will likely appeal to the teen girls (and their moms) who make up much of the fan base of the Broadway musical it's based on. Language is quite tame overall ("ass" is about as strong as it gets), but sexual innuendoes do fly -- there are plenty in the ABBA song lyrics alone -- and one of the main characters is a woman who gets pregnant but doesn't know who her baby's father is. There's also a brief, non-sexual glimpse of a man's bare butt and a fair amount of drinking, but it's mostly in the context of everyone having fun on a Greek island, and it's all pretty social in nature.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

With her wedding fast approaching, 20-year-old Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) does the unthinkable: She invites three men -- Sam (Pierce Brosnan), Bill (Stellan Skarsgard), and Harry (Colin Firth) -- from her mother Donna's (Meryl Streep) past to the Greek isle-set festivities without telling her. Donna dated all three one long-ago summer, and one of them is Sophie's father, though she's not sure which one. But Sophie's convinced that one of them should walk her down the aisle, even if it means wreaking havoc just before the big day.

Is it any good?


Based on the hit Broadway musical of the same name, MAMMA MIA! is a frothy concoction that manages to entertain despite that fact that it's disjointed, nonsensical, and fairly cheesy. Onstage, you can forgive all these shortcomings -- the music, the dancing, and the theatricality of it all sweep you away. But onscreen it's a more hazardous bet. Though some of the musical numbers soar -- "Dancing Queen," of course, and the infectious "Mamma Mia!" -- many more hit the wrong note. Although Streep is formidable (who else can meld camp with believable emotion?) and actually sings quite prettily, the dance numbers might make you laugh in all the wrong places. Seeing Streep in Spandex, her straggly mane tossing about, is a little like witnessing your mom let loose at a party after one too many drinks: Your heart soars at her joie de vivre, but you also kind of want her to stop. Still, Streep's acting chops serve her well; Christine Baranski, who plays Donna's cougar-y sidekick, also fares well, and Julie Walters is just plain fun. Brosnan is dashing as always, though singing isn't his strong suit. And Firth and Skarsgaard seem like afterthoughts.

In the end, it's Seyfried who frankly saves the whole enterprise. Her Sophie beseeches you to check your judgments at the door. Her voice is outstanding, managing to ground the silliness of ABBA's greatest hits. And the island? It's so heavenly that it mitigates the film's flaws. So what if it's all a little off? In the end, Mamma Mia! manages to move you with its unabashed exuberance. The eponymous tune does, after all, go: "Mamma Mia, how can I resist you?" For a few moments, anyway, it's the 1970s all over again. Bring on the disco ball.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about who this movie is meant to appeal to -- older fans who've been listening to ABBA since they first hit it big, or younger folks who might be familiar with the Broadway show. Do musicals translate well to the big screen? What makes them successful (or not)? What messages does the movie send about relationships and marriage?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:July 16, 2008
DVD release date:December 15, 2008
Cast:Amanda Seyfried, Meryl Streep, Pierce Brosnan
Director:Phyllida Lloyd
Studio:Universal Pictures
Run time:108 minutes
MPAA rating:PG-13
MPAA explanation:some sex-related comments

This review of Mamma Mia! was written by

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  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Parent of a 5 and 8 year old Written bykarinajohnson November 27, 2011

a fun movie to watch with your kids

This is fine for most kids. Yes, they do swear and it has sexual behavior, but most kids won't even realize it. It is a fun movie.
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Adult Written byChristian reveiwer October 31, 2009

Not approriate for any age

Some friends said that this movie would be a great family movie. NO NO No... I can't believe the vulgarity of this movie. I love Abba but I mean common, making most of their songs Sexy and vulgar dance to them. When the song Gimme gimme gimme came on the brides friends started taking her so called fathers' and poll dancing with them and it was just inappripriate. DON'T WATCH this movie if you want to ruin Abba's songs!!!
What other families should know
Too much sex
Parent of a 8 year old Written bySammy568 August 5, 2009

A fun movie, but be ready to distract your tween

Most of the sexual references are subtle and go right over my daughter's head, although I do distract her if I know something questionable is coming up. The fun music is what my daughter really enjoyed. I don't think for one moment that she's going to emulate what she sees on the screen. I've raised her better than that.
What other families should know
Too much sex


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