Can you believe 2008 was ten years ago? Seriously. This was the first thing that came to my mind when I heard Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again was coming out this year.
In 2008 I was a junior in college and my roommate was OBSESSED with Mamma Mia. I have to admit when it first came out I was less than enthused. You could say I took myself a little too seriously in college and a ridiculous musical with ABBA music was far from my cup of tea (I preferred Audrey Hepburn and classic musicals.) While I still love classic musicals and Audrey Hepburn films, I have acquired a taste for the slightly absurd and fell for the first Mamma Mia film.
I was more than excited to see Mamma Mia 2, but I was also very skeptical. It is not often, outside of Pixar films, that sequels that come out ten years after their originals hold up. I was pleasantly surprised that this one did. Don’t get me wrong, this movie is far from a classic. It‘s campy, over the top, and a bit ridiculous but if that’s what you go in expecting, this movie delivers in spades. I could genuinely fill an entire review with just the musical numbers from this film but I won’t.
Mamma Mia 2 follows Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) as she navigates her life now that she has taken on her mother’s beloved and somewhat dilapidated villa hotel and turned it into a luxury villa hotel. While the hotel’s grand opening starts to fall apart and Sophie is fighting with her husband Sky (Dominic Cooper), Donna’s husband Sam (Pierce Brosnan) and former bandmates/ best friends, Rosie (Julie Walters) and Tonya (Christine Baranski), regale her with stories of her mother’s bravery when she first came to the island. The film alternates from current day to flashbacks of Donna and how she met each of Sophie’s three dads. At the same time, two of Sophie’s dads, Bill (Stellan Skarsgard) and Harry (Colin Firth) are making their delayed attempts to reach the island in time for the grand opening.
At the hotel grand opening the thing I had been waiting the whole movie for finally happens… CHER appears! Playing Ruby, Sophie’s grandmother, Cher makes an entrance on a helicopter and sings one of my favorite ABBA songs, “Fernando”. Cher’s entrance is perfectly timed as she appears right as the movie is slowing down and her performance reinvigorates the audience. In my opinion, it’s worth seeing the film just to see Cher. Without getting too into the details of the plot I wanted to mention one more moment toward the end of the film. At the grand opening, we find out that Sophie is pregnant and we flash forward to her son’s christening. In a beautiful musical piece, we witness both Sophie’s christening and her son’s at the same church the wedding was held in the original movie. Sophie and Donna sing a duet of “My Love, My Life”, in a touching moment where we are reminded that important people are never truly gone from our lives but will always be a part of us. I’m not going to lie… I cried. Minor plot lines appear and are tied up throughout the film and everything culminates in rousing rendition of “Super Trouper” involving the entire cast. WARNING: “Super Trouper” will be stuck in your head forever after you see this film.
One thing that struck me is how well cast this movie is. Alternating between past and present so often it makes it even more important that the actors playing the younger versions of the main characters look a lot like their counterparts and each of the younger versions of our beloved characters match very well. We do have to ignore the photos from the original movie to accept these versions of the characters but it was such a small part of the original movie it’s easy to forgive. Lily James playing the young Donna is particularly fabulous. Her voice is perfect for ABBA songs and her bubbly demeanor and charm match the Donna we all know and love. Her voice is however noticeably better than Meryl Streep’s (Sorry, Meryl.)
This movie has a sense of self awareness that makes it less ridiculous in its absurdities and more charming. Each musical number, like in the original film, takes on a fanciful air while directing you through the plot of the film. At times it can feel a little forced but it never lacks in fun and whimsicality. Often in films and life, women are pitted against each other and depicted as competitors, so I am always encouraged to see films depicting supportive relationships between women the way this film does. Lighthearted and uplifting, this film is just what we need in a world that is ever increasing in its divisiveness. Don’t take yourself too seriously, grab your close friends and dancing shoes and go see Mamma Mia 2. And “May the rest of our lives be the best of our lives.”
+ A return to the fun of the original Mamma Mia film
+ Flashbacks were great and younger actors looked like their older counterparts
+ Great relationships between female characters
– It is what it is – campy, over the top and ridiculous
– Sometimes things are forced a bit
Kate Lockhart is a regular contributor to the Geekiverse.com