The news of ABBA releasing two new songs this year can be seen as pure joy for fans of the famous Sweden group returning. And with the release of Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, it’s here to please the fans who enjoyed the jukebox musical back in 2008. Just as you walk out of the theater and thinking about the rest of the day, it’s going to be difficult to have one song stuck in your head all day (i.e. “Waterloo”).
What’s the Story?: Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) is preparing for the reopening of the Hotel Bella Donna on the Greek island that used to be owned by her mother Donna (Meryl Streep). While this is all coming to ahead, Sophie figured out that she’s the right time when her mother was at her age. Flashing back to 1979, a young Donna (Lily James) has graduated from Oxford and wants explores the world when she meets Sophie’s three possible fathers along the way.
It has been ten years since the first movie came out with it becoming a smash hit at the box office and making half a billion dollars worldwide. It also took me the same amount of time to actually watch the first Mamma Mia!. And honestly, as much as I love listening to ABBA’s music and aware it was based on the Broadway musical of the same name, it just wasn’t a good musical, in my opinion, as it left unimpressed. But I didn’t think I was gonna check out the long-anticipated sequel, but I decided to take a chance (get it). By the end, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again turned out to be an enjoyable musical sequel (and there isn’t a lot out there).
Ol Parker, director of Imagine Me & You and the writer of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and its sequel, took over for Phyllida Lloyd, and he did a much better job at helming this time around working with Catherine Johnson’s script and the story from him and Richard Curtis, which improved upon its predecessor. Presented as a sequel/prequel like The Godfather Part II (weird comparison, but bear with me), there’s a connection between the present and the past that could’ve come off as contrived since it’s been done before, but the end result was reasonable enough to care what’s happening to the characters.
The returning ensemble doesn’t have a lot of scenes, especially in the first act, but it makes for a good time reuniting once again. [Lily] James was the film’s scene steller as she brought so much levity as a young, free-spirited Donna. From Cinderella to Baby Driver, this British beauty has never let me down. Meeting Harry (Hugh Skinner later played by Colin Firth), Bill (Josh Dylan played later by Stellan Skarsgård), and Sam (Jeremy Irvine later played by Pierce Brosnan) become important moments during her journey. Credit to the performers playing the younger selves because it felt like that character that they were embodying.
Most would forget that Cher pops in as Donna’s mother and Sophie’s grandmother (Is it strange that Cher is three years older than Streep?), and she was fine since she wasn’t in that much, which was expected.
One of the aspects from before it that the musical numbers felt lazy and didn’t have much a style to any of them or connected to the plot so much. Here, it’s way better and it felt like an actual musical. Plus, the choreography actually had effort throughout. Some new songs included in here are “Knowing Me, Knowing You, Fernando, One of Us, etc. I won’t lie when I say I was nodding my head when everybody was singing “Dancing Queen”. The opening number “When I Kissed the Teacher” was pretty energetic as it was a good way to start the film off. Some songs that were used in the first movie are sung again, but better. And to make this a little better, Brosman doesn’t sing that much.
And it’s much funnier than before, and I was surprised that I laughed more than four times. Tanya (Christine Baranski) and Rosie (Julie Walters) return for the film’s comic relief, and this time, it wasn’t annoying. Baranski had one hilarious line that I’m gonna remember. Side Note: the younger versions of Tanya and Rosie (Jessica Keenan Wynn and Alexa Davies) adds to that power.
As for problems, it started off a little rocky thinking that it was gonna be the first film all over again, but it was able to keep it grounded. For the story, it itself can be seen as a little messy; it’s at least an actual story because the first was just Sophie inviting her three dads to her wedding and everybody being idiots not telling anybody. And for some reason, I don’t know why, I never felt like there was chemistry between Sophie and Sky (Dominic Cooper), and they used to date in real-life.
I will say Streep is only in the film very briefly. Some may have seen this coming since the marketing barely shows her. No spoilers, but close near the end, it had an ending that was pretty poignant and it was completely unexpected. In a Mamma Mia! movie? Seems to be true.
Coming in with low expectations because its predecessor was unbearable, it was a pleasant follow-up that a movie that the idea of it sounded like an unnecessary sequel that really nobody asked for, but it honestly wasn’t that bad of a time. Mamma Mia!: Here We Go Again fixes the problems that many had problems in a much better way. Makes me wanna listen to ABBA on Spotify once I get home. And even though this isn’t one the best movies to comes out this year, it’s worth a re-watch in the time comes.
Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again proved to be a surprisingly well-made improvement than the original with catchy music and certain charm included even when it can’t contain its cheesiness. Grade: B-