Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again-2018
Starring-Lily James, Amanda Seyfried
Scott’s Review #797
Reviewed July 31, 2018
My expectations for Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again (2018) were not lofty was I anticipating drivel. I expected (and was in the mood for) a summer popcorn musical flick with fun, dancing, and little in the way of analysis or requiring too much thought. I can proudly say that my expectations were fulfilled with this film- it delivers what the intent is and sometimes that is exactly what the doctor ordered. The film is enthusiastic and lively, with the musical numbers serving as the standouts.
In an immediate plot twist, it is revealed that main character Donna (Meryl Streep) has died a year earlier and daughter Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) is planning a lavish reopening of her hotel on the beaches of Greece. The film serves as both a sequel and a prequel as events also go back to 1979 where a young Donna (Lily James) graduates from college and embarks on a journey to “find herself”. She travels extensively and meets her three beaus (anyone who saw the 2008 original will be familiar with this plot) and the film is great at connecting the events of both films together in a pleasing way.
Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again is hardly high art and not intended to be. In fact, it is a bit sub-par to the original if truth be told as some of the musical numbers are “secondary” ABBA songs. The biggest hits were used in the 2008 film. The overall plot feels a bit forced and not exactly compelling drama either- especially since we know what the eventual result of Donna’s relationships will be. The story seems geared towards a bombastic finish. But the sheer fact that the song and dances are interspersed throughout the film makes it enjoyable enough.
The film plays more like someone’s fantasy than a real life sequence and liberties must certainly be taken. Everything always seems to go Donna’s way and events merely fall into place- if only real life were that way! The introduction of Donna’s mother (Sophie’s grandmother) – explained to be a rich and famous singer residing in Las Vegas, is a way to add the legendary Cher to the story. Disappointing, the star does not appear until the end of the film, more like a cameo appearance.
This leads me to the best parts of the film, which occur during the final thirty minutes. As Sophie’s grand hotel reopening party comes to fruition (a devastating storm thrown into the story is purely for dramatic effect), all details fall into place in magical form. Hundreds of party guests show up, Donna’s beaus reunite, and the aforementioned absentee grandmother (Ruby) makes a grand entrance via helicopter (in stiletto heels naturally). In this way the grand finale is superior to the rest of the film.
Cher, still looking gorgeous at age seventy two, is the pure highlight of the film and it kicks into high gear when she appears. Considering all of the hype and press surrounding a film reunion between Cher and Meryl Streep- they starred together in 1983’s Silkwood- it should come as no real surprise that Streep’s deceased Donna makes an appearance.
The two best scenes come at the end of Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again! As much as the lavish Cher demands the grand finale in terms of glamour and song, it is Streep’s touching duet with Sophie that will bring tears to viewer’s eyes and capture the emotional element of the film. As Streep and Seyfried churn out a gorgeous rendition of “My Love, My Life”, the mother/daughter relationship between the actresses is lovely and will fondly remind audiences of the chemistry in the 2008 film.
In regards to Cher, the revelation that Ruby is a long lost lover of hotel manager, Fernando (Andy Garcia), is sweet and romantic. Despite limited screen time, the duo share wonderful on-screen chemistry, so much so that I yearned to know the back story of their relationship. We only know that they were madly in love in 1959? Why did it not work out? Regardless, Cher’s version of the song “Fernando” is both appropriate and enchanting.
Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again (2018) is a summer film sure to please audiences eager for a fluffy musical. With bright and cheerful Greek island locales, lavish oceans, and bombastic feel-good pop sensibilities, this film was marketed well and shares enough connection with 2008’s Mamma Mia! to enrapture and please audiences who enjoyed the first version.