Anthony Scott's review of Mamma Mia! is classic NY Times.
Excerpts (but please go read the whole thing):
"If you insist on folding your arms, looking at your watch and defending yourself against this mindless, hedonistic assault on coherence, you are unlikely to survive until the end credits (which may, by themselves, kill you all over again). Surrender, on the other hand, is easy and painless. It’s Greece! It’s bellybuttons! It’s Meryl Streep! It’s Abba!
"See that girl! Watch that scene! If you change your mind, I’m the first in line. Mamma Mia, here I go again. Like me, you may have spent the last 30 years struggling to get lines like those out of your head — and wondering what they were doing there in the first place — but you might as well have been trying to compost Styrofoam. Those shimmery, layered arrangements, those lyrics in a language uncannily like English, those symmetrical Nordic voices — they all add up to something alarmingly permanent, a marshmallow monument on the cultural landscape. When our species dies out, leaving the planet to roaches and robots, the insects will beat their little wings to the tune of 'Waterloo' as Wall-E and Eve warble along.
"And the darn thing still won’t make any sense. Nor does 'Mamma Mia!,' but that’s hardly a criticism. The story (by Catherine Johnson) is more or less an early Shakespeare comedy reimagined as an episode of 'Hannah Montana'...
"I know: I promised you a good time, and I’m describing a train wreck. But it’s hard not to share the evident delight of most of the performers. Ms. Streep overdoes it, yes, but you can’t accuse her of condescending to the material any more than you can fault her for taking it too seriously
"The impression left by the old pros who make up most of the cast is that they have nothing to be ashamed of and nothing to prove, and that worrying about dignity is for newbies and amateurs....
"Really, this movie is incapable of harming anyone, except moviegoers with the good taste and bad manners to resist its relentless, ridiculous charm."