Mamma Mia! is a cultural phenomenon. The combination of the ever- pleasurable ABBA hits, jiving musical and fun first film, you’d be hard pressed to find someone who isn’t familiar with the story. Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, the sequel to the smash hit 2008 movie musical Mamma Mia!, is as unexpected as it is unnecessary. The plot picks up several years after the events of the first film on the Greek island of Kalokairi, Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) is running her now deceased mother Donna’s (Meryl Streep) villa. Sophie’s relationship is suffering from distance which in turn is causing her to doubt that she can survive without her mother, husband and friends. Donna’s best friends (Christine Baranski and Julie Walters) return to give Sophie some much needed guidance in the lead up to the grand reopening of the Villa. Sophie learns about Donna’s past, including how she started her villa on the island, met each one of Sophie’s dads, Sam, Bill, and Harry (Pierce Brosnan, Stellan Skarsgård, and Colin Firth), and raised a daughter without a mother’s guidance. The film leads to an eventual last minute meeting of Sophie’s long time estranged grandmother, Ruby (played by Cher, because of course).
The first film was nothing but entertaining, one couldn’t watch the first film and not enjoy the spectacular “amateur-musical” delightfully fun romp that it was. It was light, didn’t take itself at all too seriously, boasted some of the greatest karaoke songs of all time, featured some good performances and generally could lift the spirits of even the most stone hearted of audiences. The sequel, 10 years in the making, tries its hardest to elevate itself to the level of the fun that the first film pulled off so well. Unfortunately its pacing is off and the film suffers from a silly and nonsensical first half. Most of ABBA’s most memorable tracks are used up in the first film, leaving only some second-tier obscure song choices that fail to cause the same toe tapping jubilation as last time.
Lily James performs with some truly sunny enthusiasm as the young Donna. Her bright disposition is so infectious that you forget she is doing a seemingly impossible task of playing a character previously played by the High Priestess of Acting. Streep’s performance here is sadly cut to one musical number that she knocks out of the park. Her number, “My Love, My Life” is one of hell of a tear jerker and causally reaffirmed why she is “Meryl Streep”. Baranski and Walters deliver some hilariously memorable lines and carry many of the funniest moments. As do their counterparts who play their younger selves.
Addressing the other diva in the room… Cher. Although only being 3 years older than Meryl, she oddly plays her mother. Her extended cameo (really what it is), is so very Cher, fun with her tongue firmly in cheek and singing her plastic little heart out. For all its silliness– the second act is when the film truly picks up and we forgive the extremely tedious and cringy start. For all its faults this is a mother film at its heart. It means well, just sometimes needlessly pushy… as most mothers can be.
Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again is now showing in Australian cinemas!
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