Walking on Sunshine (PG)
Musical comedy/98 minutes/Opens today
The story: Taylor (Hannah Arterton) travels from England to Puglia, Italy, to attend her sister Maddie's (Annabel Scholey's) wedding. Things get complicated when she realises that her sister's fiance, Raf (Giulio Berruti), is her old holiday flame from three years ago.
An idyllic seaside holiday, a bright-eyed ingenue, a cheery retro soundtrack - all incorporated into a big-hearted musical. Sounds familiar?
This is because it is pretty much what it seems: A rip-off of Mamma Mia (2008), except that the Abba tunes have been replaced by a string of other 1980s pop hits. Oh, and minus the A-list cast.
The biggest name attached to this British project helmed by Streetdance (2010) directors Max Giwa and Dania Pasquini is singer Leona Lewis, although her part as Taylor (Hannah Arterton) and Maddie's (Annabel Scholey's) concerned friend barely registers.
It is a good thing, then, that everyone else in the cast is so utterly likeable. They ham it up to such campy effect that you cannot help but chuckle at their antics.
Even Greg Wise (Sense And Sensibility, 1995) as a smarmy former boyfriend elicits some genuine laughs as he splays himself across the bed and worms his sleazy hands across Maddie's body in hilariously dramatic fashion.
Most of the cast can sing moderately well, except for Italian hottie Giulio Berruti. But all is forgiven whenever he takes his shirt off (which is very, very often).
And while the film does, in many ways, feel too similar to that other, much more famous musical movie set on an exotic European island, this one takes the silliness level up quite a few notches more.
This is not all bad, if the viewer enters the cinema in the right mood. So what if the plot is paper-thin and the story development is totally ridiculous?
Much like what fuelled the success of Mamma Mia (both on stage and at the box office), as well as Singapore's own Retrolicious concerts, the film works for the right audience - those who simply want to have some mindless nostalgic fun and sing along to some cheesy but totally catchy old hits.
From The Human League's Don't You Want Me to Bananarama's Venus and the chirpy titular song by Katrina And The Waves, many 1980s classics are featured here, and, surprisingly, most work rather well for the story. In fact, they feel less forced than some of those used in Mamma Mia.
When this film opened in Britain a few weeks ago, critics cringed at the corniness of it all. But, if the movie does not take itself seriously, why should we? It's the 1980s, baby, let loose and live a little.
This article by The Straits Times was published in MyPaper, a free, bilingual newspaper published by Singapore Press Holdings.
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