Written and Directed by: Ol Parker
Based on the Original Musical Mamma Mia!
Story by: Richard Curtis and Ol Parker and Catherine Johnson
Based on the Songs of ABBA
Music and Lyrics by: Benny Andersson, Björn Ulvaeus
Produced by: Judy Craymer, p.g.a., Gary Goetzman, p.g.a.
Starring: Christine Baranski, Pierce Brosnan, Dominic Cooper, Colin Firth, Andy Garcia, Lily James, Amanda Seyfried, Stellan Skarsgård, Julie Walters, with Cher and Meryl Streep.
Going to see a musical makes me brace myself like some people cringe at the thought of watching a gory horror – it didn’t help I attempted to watch the original Mamma Mia! The Movie (2008) recently and just couldn’t stand the enthusiasm of idiots for more than half an hour…
So, from the perspective of someone who doesn’t go for musicals, I found Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again a far more subtle version of the original with the humour based on the silly rather than the ridiculous.
Opening on the beautiful Greek island of Kalkairi, Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) has transformed her mother’s Hotel Bella Donna in preparation of a grand opening with views of an aqua sea, plantation blinds (that actually work) and a gentleman-manager: Señor Cienfuegos (Andy Garcia); the share of his niceties and fire bargained over, the final offer an 80/20 split between returning Dynamos, Tanya (Christine Baranski) and Rosie (Julie Walters).
But there’s a sadness that descends when Sophia is left without her Sky (Dominic Cooper also cast in a favourite series of mine, Preacher – talk about a different character!) who has a job offer in New York, the conflict reflected in the weather as rain falls, threatening to ruin the opening.
The film then follows threads back and forth between current day to 1979 where young and free Donna (Lily James) and best friends Tanya (Jessica Keenan Wynn) and Rosie (Alexa Davies) graduate from University.
There’s clever splicing and layers between the two times showing the young Donna as she meets Young Sam (Jeremy Irvine), Young Bill (Josh Dylan) and Young Harry (Hugh Skinner), to reveal what really happened with possible dad: one, two and three.
The film embraces the circle of life as fate turns from mother to daughter and all that brought their world together to fall apart to be brought back again all threaded together with the music of ABBA.
I found the songs here calmer and more melodic compared to the original soundtrack with tracks such as ‘Fernando’ (by Cher and Andy Garcia), ‘Andante, Andante’ (Lily James) and ‘My Love, My Life’ (Amanda Seyfried, Lily James and Meryl Streep).
But don’t worry disco fans, Cher still manages a grand gesture: frilled, fluffy-haired and freed into the spot-light with ‘Super Trouper’ (Cher, Meryl Streep, Christine Baranski, Julie Walters, Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth, Stellan Skarsgård, Andy Garcia, Amanda Seyfried, Dominic Cooper, Lily James, Jessica Keenan Wynn, Alexa Davies, Josh Dylan, Jeremy Irvine and Hugh Skinner).
I’m just thankful the whole film wasn’t over-done like teens spliced with the older versions high on champagne and some hybrid of stimulant and steroid to beef up the screech of ridiculous in song!
Instead, Here We Go Again is kinda sweet (Lily James warm like sunshine reminding me of her role as Debora in Baby Driver (2017)) and funny with original Greek owner of the hotel, Sofia (Maria Vacratsis) commenting on young Sam’s wandering eye and restless groin.
And the harking back to young Harry’s virginal awkward days where he saw, ‘very little reason not to crack on’.
I admit I got caught up because I found the film able to take a crack at itself, to allow some of the enthusiasm to calm, to allow the charm and humour and silliness through like a village goat who gives chase through a grove of orange trees.
Not my style of film but I admit there were some laughs, and with a glass, a friend or partner (or piece of cake!), Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again is a good bit of fun with a few emotional bits, some singing and life decisions all mixed with the turquoise beauty of Greece.