“Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again” stars Meryl Streep, Amanda Seyfried, Lily James, Christine Baranski, Julie Walters, Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth, Stellan Skarsgård, Andy Garcia, and Cher. Released on July 20, 2018, the film has Sophie learning more about her mother’s past.
The film is directed by Ol Parker, who also directed “Imagine Me & You” and “Now is Good”. It is a sequel to the 2008 film, “Mamma Mia!", which is based on the 1999 musical of the same name. Ever since its debut on stage, “Mamma Mia!” was a smash hit for musical fans as well as ABBA fans. In 2008, Universal decided to bring that success to the big screen with “Mamma Mia! The Movie”. That strategy proved to be just as successful as its Broadway tour, earning more than $600 million worldwide despite receiving some mixed reviews from critics, with most of them criticizing some of the actors’ singing abilities, including Pierce Brosnan. However, that type of criticism didn’t stop the film from gaining a follow-up a decade later. I was genuinely surprised that they made a sequel to “Mamma Mia!” because I usually see it as a stand-alone project. Even though I only watched the first film once, I was interested in seeing it because I like watching musicals and it has a ton of recognizable actors portraying their acting and singing talents on the big screen. Plus, Meryl Streep is in it, and my mother loves Meryl Streep (and Pierce Brosnan). With that in mind, let’s see if this follow-up can sing its way to the top once more.
Serving as both a prequel and a sequel, the film takes place ten years after the events of the first film, where Sophie (Seyfried) is reopening her late mother’s hotel. During that time, the film flashes back to 1979, where a young Donna (James) encounters her daughter Sophie’s three possible fathers for the first time. It’s two follow-ups for the price of one. Like the first film, “Here We Go Again” offers a happy-go-lucky tone that’s occasionally silly, but simply irresistible. It’s one of those things that get audiences in a good mood in the midst of this summer’s action-packed blockbusters, and that’s totally OK. Not only was the film able to maintain the qualities that made its predecessor special despite its usual romantic comedy elements, but it was surprisingly a bit better than the first film. The entire cast was just as likable as they were a decade ago, and their singing? My my, how can I resist them? My personal highlight for me was Lily James. She did a wonderful job in portraying the younger version of Donna Sheridan, who is played by Meryl Streep, and her singing was just…wow. What a voice. Speaking of Streep, if you like her in the first film, there’s a good chance that you might be disappointed because her role in this film is really, really small, even though her role serves a purpose to the story and its messages. The musical numbers are once again jukebox songs that were performed by ABBA, and like its cast and the choreography, they’re simply fun to watch. My personal issue with the first film was that its overabundance of musical numbers messed up its pacing. Here, the musical numbers are all balanced out with the dialogue scenes so that they don’t wear out its welcome. I understand that “Mamma Mia!” was supposed to be a musical, but come on, do we really need to have a person singing and dancing every few seconds or so? As for its flaws, I mentioned earlier that the story serves as both a sequel and a prequel. I thought that it was an interesting strategy to tell this type of story, but I also thought that writer/director Ol Parker could’ve portrayed it a bit better. What I mean is that most of the time, the film likes to randomly transition between the past and the present without even giving out some sort of a sign. It’s like he wrote two screenplays for the film, one that’s a sequel and one that’s a prequel, and mashed them up together. If they have the characters introduce the flashbacks, it would’ve make the narrative better compared to what it was now, but that’s just my assumption.
Overall, “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again” is just as delightful and toe-tapping as the original was ten years ago. Despite its odd transitioning between two stories and its familiar tropes, the film’s enjoyable cast of characters and musical numbers will once again make audiences dance, jive, and have the time of their lives. Like I said before, it’s one of those types of films that make people feel good in the midst of all of the violence that’s been happening both in real life and in the movies. If you’re a fan of the first film and the musical that it’s based on, or if you’re just looking for a regular feel-good film that’s also a musical, it’s definitely worth a watch.