This rousingly feelgood Edinburgh-set musical inspired by the songs of Scottish folk-rock duo The Proclaimers quickly got dubbed McMamma Mia. And, yes, it does follow the jukebox-musical template laid down by the ABBA show and film as it weaves 13 Proclaimers numbers into a narrative in which couples from different generations fall in and out of love.
And, yes, there is something undeniably contrived and sentimental about the story cooked up by screenwriter Stephen Greenhorn, adapting his 2007 Dundee Rep stage show, in which British squaddies Davy (George McKay) and Ally (Kevin Guthrie), newly returned from Afghanistan, struggle to sustain their relationships with nurses Yvonne (Misfits’ Antonia Thomas) and Liz (Skins’ Freya Mavor), while Liz and Davy’s parents, Rab (Peter Mullan) and Jean (Jane Horrocks), wrestle with marital difficulties of their own.
Yet despite the low-budget-defying gloss provided by actor turned director Dexter Fletcher – Edinburgh really does look fabulous – the gritty honesty of the Reid brothers’ songs remains intact and the superb cast give their stirring singalong anthems – including Over and Done With, I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles) and Letter from America – real emotional clout.
The gravel-voiced Mullan will never be described as a great singer but he invests Oh Jean with a touching sweetness and vulnerability, while Horrocks gives true depth of feeling to the heartfelt title song. Their younger co-stars are excellent, too. But do look out, early in the film, for a brief cameo appearance by the Proclaimers twins themselves, Craig and Charlie Reid, as they step out of a pub just as Davy and Ally are passing to the strains of I’m On My Way.
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