Mamma Mia! Movie Poster Image

Mamma Mia!

Upbeat, silly ABBA musical has sexual innuendos.
Popular with kidsParents recommend
  • 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.

Positive role models

Most of the lead characters are forced into coming to terms with their past sexual indiscretions, especially in light of the fact that the bride-to-be in the movie is unsure who among three men is her actual father. Characters don't really emerge beyond archetypes ("the writer," "the cougar," "the banker," and so on), despite all outward appearances of strong and independent-minded women seemingly determined to make their own way in the world. 


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. 


Occasional mild profanity: "son of a bitch," "crap," as well as UK terms such as "bollocks" and "bugger." Frequent sexual insinuations. A woman points at her friend's breasts and asks, "Where did you get these?" 


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

Characters drink alcohol, act drunk. Some cigar smoking. References to marijuana. 

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Mamma Mia is a 2008 movie inspired by the musical inspired by the music of Swedish 1970s hit-makers ABBA. 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," "bitch," UK terms such as "bollocks" and "bugger"), 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. A sex toy is seen briefly during a dance sequence. Expect a quick kiss between two men; one key character turns out to be gay. There's also a brief, nonsexual 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. Characters also drink throughout and often appear to be drunk. Expect references to marijuana. 

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 Skarsgård), 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 is 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 the 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 on-screen 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 Skarsgård 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?

  • Musicals have been a film genre almost since the days in which movies first had sound. What are some of the elements of musicals, not only in terms of performers singing but also in terms of production values, choreography, and style? 

  • Do you think the frequent sexual allusions and insinuations are necessary for the movie? Why, or why not? 

Movie details

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

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Adult Written byhelenmirrenrox May 27, 2011

Mamma Mia!!

This is a nice movie but however, there is some iffy stuff I had to watch out for. I watched this with my 12 year old and I looked up a few times. 12 is a bit iffy to watch at. 13 should be good. If you are 14+ it is fine. There is some sexy stuff in this movie. The whole point of the movie is "Sophie" doesn't know who her father is because her mom slept with 3 different men. There are several uses of "knocked up" and "You got any?".. In one scene a man's butt is showing in front of a lady (FULLY). In a nother scene a woman slides down a mans waist and ties a towel around his 'area'--You can see he 'felt' it--this scene is naughty and it carries on for a few seconds, also in this scene you see a bag full of "toys" (breif). There are several suggestive dance moves. Some lyrics in the songs are mild, but there are refrances such as- "Do your thing", "not to old for sex", "I had a few little love affairs" "Your a teaser you turn them on", "We can go walking" "It was the time of our flower power"---Any way there are some kissed to. One on a beach that last for a VERY short time. 2 passionate kisses between Donna and Sam (one while being only half dressed. And there are 2 meadium kisses between Sophie and Ski. There is a short romantic kiss between Rosie and Bill. Some flirting is on a beach, a few love songs, hand holding, carrying, hugging, sex talk, and some bare chests and such. This movie has little violence, a woman falls from a balcony into a man's arms, a fish with teeth is shown and there is a minor earthquake with LITTLE distruction. As for swears, sl*t, crap and ass- is as bad as it gets. There are some drinks, and a man smoking is shown once. Some people have a party at the bar and are tierd the next morning.
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
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
Parent of a 10 year old Written byfarmertom January 14, 2010

Enjoyed it myself but wouldn't recommend it to kids under 18.

I actually really liked the movie. I found myself humming the tunes for at least a week afterward. It made me want to go to Greece and spend a few weeks being lazy in the sun. I'm not a huge fan of musicals but sometimes enjoy them. This was a very entertaining one. BUT........As a parent, I feel the role model is terrible. One summer the lead actress has a fling with three guys and gets pregnant. I don't like it when single mothers that make poor choices are glamorized. I applaud their effort is raising kids but think that most of the time they made a choice. It isn't like they slipped on a wet rock and got knocked up. And this movie sort of does put the fact that she was a single parent up on a pedestal. So basically, I don't want my son or daughter watching it but I would gladly see it again myself and I'm sure I will.