Director: Max Giwa and Dania Pasquini
Starring: Hannah Arterton, Annabel Scholey, Greg Wise, Leona Lewis, Giulio Berruti, Katy Brand
Written by: Joshua St Johnston
Running Time: 97 mins
Release date: 27th June 2014
Okay, stop me if you’ve heard this one before. There’s a holiday, could be the Greece Islands, no make it Italy and there’s a wedding and there are lots and lots of cheesy songs that the cast murder and there’s an older Englishman who struggles to carry a tune and it’s all bright and breezy and…I’m going to vomit just thinking about it.
Yes, we’ve arrived at Mamma Mia 2! I mean Walking On Sunshine, a kaleidoscope of crassness being harboured as a feel-good musical. More like a feel sick musical, if you ask me because, no matter how energetic the cast are, you come out wanting those annoying songs to go away!
Three years ago, Taylor went to Italy and had a holiday romance with hunky Raf, then she left to go to University. Three years later, she returns to the same place where she advised her sister, Maddie, to go to get over her relationship with slimy Doug. What Taylor soon discovers is that Maddie is getting married…to Raf. Oh the predicament. Should Taylor tell Maddie that Raf is her holiday love? Can Raf decide which sister he loves? Will Doug win back the heart of Maddie?
Who cares? From the opening musical number, when Taylor arrives at the airport, singing Madonna’s Holiday while Flight attendances and other holiday goers form some kind of frenzied flash-mob, you know exactly what you are letting yourself in for. 97 minutes of pain! Everything is yanked up to full volume so there’s not a moment of peace and quiet and thoughtful calmness. This is a world where no one is sad. Everyone is enormously happy and everyone knows every song and every dance routine while the auto-tuner works overtime to a Casio keyboard soundtrack.
I don’t have a problem with jukebox musicals. The massively underrated Sunshine On Leith showed exactly how to do it, shoehorn the songs around a script that is both witty and bright with a dash of darkness, even if a character says about marriage, the room fills with “Let’s Get Married”. Here the songs aren’t so much shoehorned but sledgehammered, in both vocals and production values. There seems to be no reason for their existence except to make your teeth go on edge!
It’s like watching an over-eager amateur dramatics society, whose choreographer wants everything sharper than sharp and with plenty of jazz hands. Fine for a couple of big numbers but not every song! Hundreds of dancers all doing the same thing while the lead bursts out The Power Of Love for no reason except they haven’t had a musical number for five minutes.
It is just too much. There’s a saying that less is more. Someone should have told directors Max Giwa and Dania Pasquini the fine art of subtlety because everything is overdone and hugely overcooked. It’s like spending time with an annoying, precocious child who has learnt the song “Tomorrow” from Annie and wants to sing it to you again and again and again!
If the musical numbers are over-the-top, so are the performances. Not one person here knows how to show real emotion or depth. All the characters are paper thin and lack any heart. They are the kind of people who, if you saw them in a restaurant, you’d want to go somewhere quieter. It does have Leona Lewis in it. Yes, the big voiced winner of The X Factor making her acting debut. You would have thought having a voice like hers, the film makers would go to town. Nope. In fact, she sings very little and does very little. Co-star Katy Brand, who didn’t win The X Factor and isn’t an international singing sensation, sings more than Lewis does.
This is an abomination. The remains of Mamma Mia scraped up and genetically mixed with a bag of Skittles. It’s grating and annoying and you want it to go away the moment it starts. If you want a feel-good musical, then get a copy of Sunshine On Leith or, even Mamma Mia but any film that is like watching the cast of High School Musical on 40 cans of Red Bull is a migraine waiting to happen!