It was pitch dark, as midnight should be. The air was cool, as an operative air-conditioning unit should provide. The only thing to focus on in the darkness was the screen in front, as a good movie should be viewed. Against the backdrop of rippling water, a sweet voice sang, and I was instantly captivated, as a beautiful song should mersmerise. And my journey to a fun, enjoyable movie began - Mamma Mia!
Although the volume was turned to the top for maximum enjoyment, my seven-years-old son was sleeping soundly next to me, unperturbed throughout the movie.
The screen was slightly wider than thirteen inches, no more than two feet away and the sound reached me through a pair of earbuds, in my bedroom. That's where and when I first watched Mamma Mia! - on a computer in DVD, when everybody's asleep, a few months after its theatrical release.
As much as I wanted to, I didn't catch the movie in the cinema, because my wife is not a fan of ABBA and I didn't want to crack my head explaining how a person can have three possible fathers to my two young children. So I waited for the DVD.
I didn't know about Mamma Mia the musical before the movie premier and the musical setting foot in Malaysia. I was curious in how they would break into songs and dances in the movie. And when Sophie sang "Honey, Honey ..." amidst a monologue, I felt it was slightly uncanny. But as soon as she went "he's a love machine ... oh he make me dizzy!" shaking her head cheekily, I was head over heel into it. From then on I need no convincing to ride along the fun-filled excursion - the noisy reunion of old friends, the serendipity of strangers' gathering, the lavish monetary fantasy, the butterfly of heartbeat in meeting old flames, the merry singing and dancing of a bunch of women ...
I was singing and dancing silently as I was taken through the familiar ABBA songs, and the sentimental fool of me even had tears in my eyes when the songs reached their climaxes, even in songs like Dancing Queen when the beats resonated so closely to the strings of my heart. When I didn't have tears in my eyes, I was smiling. The only thing I didn't do was break into songs and dances. I was so into it ... until Pierce Brosnan sang with Donna Sheridan.
Pierce Brosnan. Not Sam Carmichael. When the character sang SOS, there was a slight pause in the flow of my thoughts. That's when my mind resurface from the sea of make-belief for a brief moment.
Sam Carmichael talked the way he talks and sang the way he sings. I guess nobody can be critical about it. But when we see Sam Carmichael as Pierce Brosnan, we had expectation. When he leaned against the wall and filled in "When your're gone!" to Donna's, I felt the "awkwardness" and was being critical for a while. But I was quick to fall back into the movie again. Still, I think Brosnan was sweet when he sang "I can't conceal it ..." on one knee in the chapel, and sentimental when he sang "Here's to us, one more toast ..." during dinner. And on subsequent viewing (to date, four times within one month!), I found his singing pleasant, even on SOS, and need no convincing from my parts. And it's easy to watch it over and over again too. What's not to love about Mamma Mia!?
It's a summer romance set on a scenic island, with charming and lovable characters roaming and dancing around the piers, the villa, the beaches; familiar ABBA songs ringing in the air; yachts sailing in the breeze, jeeps roaming on sandy roads; the days were basking in sunshine, blue sky and summer breezes and the night was shrouded in colorful and mysterious veil - a perfect place for a romantic escape. It was easy to be captivated by the freedom in the air, the beauty of the island, the charms of Donna, Tanya, Rosie, Sophie, Sam, Bill and Harry, and of course the wonderful ABBA songs - it was engrossing.
In fact, I was so engrossed with the movie the first time I watched it, my awareness was totally swept away. I didn't notice that the name of the place was Villa Donna; I didn't notice when Donna had a drill in her hand before she went "Down boy! Down boy!"; I didn't realise what's Harry wake-up call was; I didn't catch all the gay-indicative moments of Harry; I didn't realize "Aphrodite" is the word that was heard when the water sprouted from the cracked ground towards the ending ... and I guess I'll find more details over my repeated viewing of the movie. And I will be watching it over and over again, until my crush over it tapers off.
In retrospect, I was probably right in waiting for the DVD too, or else I would have a really hard time in controlling myself from dancing in the cinema and looking like a fool in front of the public.
"Honey, honey, how you thrill me, uh-ha ... Honey, honey ..."