Writer: Joshua St Johnson
Cast: Annabel Scholey, Hannah Arterton, Greg Wise, Katy Brand, Guilio Berruti
Running Time: 97mins
The lowdown: Part extended music video, part travel guide, part Hollyoaks: The Musical. Directors Max and Dania (Street Dance, Street Dance2) have assembled a game ensemble (including X-Factor winner Leona Lewis in her don’t-give-up-your-day-job big screen debut) but the result is a discordant disaster unlikely to entice anyone away from the last gasps of summer sun.
The full verdict: From the bombastic opening blast of Madonna’s ‘Holiday’, this Mamma Mia wannabe relentlessly lashes the lugholes with a back catalogue of random eighties hits shoehorned in to fit the thong-thin plot.
While there’s courage in creating a musical from an unproven source, the uninspired choreography and plagiarised set pieces lazily undo any original intentions.
The beach-montage pre-credit opener is a direct lift from Grease and later we’re treated to an eerily accurate recreation of the Bangles ‘Eternal Flame’ video. Several of the songs used became popular in superior films (Back to The Future, Pretty Woman) and it’s hard to hear them in any other context.
A younger generation may not immediately make these connections and it’s clear that the twentysomething coin is what’s being courted here.
Setting the action in the present day further lessens any nostalgic impact on an audience old enough to remember the tunes first time around. This scuppers the obvious hope of any Mamma Mia-style generational cross pollination and resultant box office bonanza.
Stitching these hits together is a predictably trite tale; young graduate Taylor (Arterton, sister of Gemma) returns to a small Italian village, the hometown of an old flame, to visit her flighty sister Maddie (Scholey). She’s about to get married to a local lad and hey, you’ll never guess who he turns out to be…oh, you did.
The cast are clearly having a great time and you’ll envy their enthusiasm.
Arterton may be the lovelorn lead and Lewis the chart-topper but attractive newcomer Scholey gets most screen time. It’s too bad then that she fills it with annoying facial contortions, particularly during a painfully literal interpretation of ‘The Power Of Love’.
Also on Kabuki karaoke duty, comedienne Katy Brand mugs furiously as brassy bestie ‘Lil’, saddled with saucy seaside dialogue and shot from increasingly unflattering angles.
Menfolk fare no better; Greg Wise is cringeworthy and creepy as Maddie’s ex-boyfriend, his lecherous pursuit of his prey making Robin Thicke seem bashful. Love ‘interest’ Guilio Berruti (The Lizzie McGuire Movie) is a hunk of muscular mahogany whose lofty ambition, we are informed, is to ‘kite surf the world’. The constant objectification of his toned torso is yet another cynical distraction from a plethora of plot holes.
Unbelievably it’s not all awful; a spirited stag night rendition of Duran Duran’s ‘Wild Boys’ threatens to become fun and the Italian tourist board will be delighted with the depiction of picturesque Puglia. But, like most holiday romances, this is an embarrassing and empty encounter you’ll want to forget as soon as you get home.