+ Recommended – PG-13, Comedy, Musical
I have been waiting for this movie for longer than I care to admit. When the first Mamma Mia film adaptation came out (10 years ago?!), I was instantly enamored. There’s something special about something that’s only purpose is to make you smile and get a few ABBA hits stuck in your head, however, I was worried that a sequel might push it too far. I mean, how much ABBA can we really take?
Apparently, we can enjoy two more hours of ABBA! I was absolutely delighted with Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again. In this fresh take with the group from the first film, we focus on Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) as she takes up the gargantuan task of renovating the old farmhouse into the hotel her mother had always imagined. She is on a time limit here, as she prepares for a huge opening party, welcoming back some familiar faces. As we watch the scenes focussed in the present, there are also flashbacks following a young Donna (Lily James) as she makes her way to the island and meets her three young suitors (Jeremy Irvine, Josh Dylan, and Hugh Skinner) along the way. Almost every moment of this film is light-hearted and fun, but that isn’t to say there weren’t a few bumps to be seen.
The drops in my overall rating for Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again really only come in towards the end of the film. From the trailers, audiences get the impression that there will be two tension points in the plot: the announcement of Sophie’s pregnancy and the arrival of her grandmother, Cher. Truly, I don’t think Cher is capable of playing a role that isn’t herself anymore, but that is besides the point. Both of these plot devices fell flat. There was no fanfare and it didn’t add anything of substance to what we were watching on screen. If anything, it was distracting to the storylines I found more entertaining, such as every moment that we spent watching a flashback. Seriously, those were fascinating. I thought the casting for the younger versions of Donna’s friends Rosie (Julie Walters) and Tanya (Christine Baranski) was especially spot on.
Surprisingly, the most emotional Jared and I got during our watch time was only during scenes featuring Pierce Brosnan. So, while this film is fun and absolutely worth the ticket price, don’t expect to have the emotional fluctuations that we got during our first trip to the island. One of the ways they did improve on their second go around was their use of comedic timing. They actually drew a couple of laughs from me, which is rare. Oh, and the group choreography for the dance numbers was amazing. They were fun to watch even on a technical level. All in all, I really enjoyed this sequel. The best scene though, for that you will have to wait until the absolute end of the movie. Meryl Streep is a gift to this franchise and she proves it once again.