Time: 114 Minutes
Age Rating: Contains sexual references
Amanda Seyfried as Sophie Sheridan
Meryl Streep as Donna Sheridan
Lily James as Young Donna
Dominic Cooper as Sky
Christine Baranski as Tanya Chesham-Leigh
Jessica Keenan Wynn as Young Tanya
Julie Walters as Rosie Mulligan
Alexa Davies as Young Rosie
Pierce Brosnan as Sam Carmichael
Jeremy Irvine as Young Sam
Colin Firth as Harry Bright
Hugh Skinner as Young Harry
Stellan Skarsgård as Bill Anderson
Josh Dylan as Young Bill
Cher as Ruby Sheridan
Andy García as Fernando Cienfuegos
Director: Ol Parker
In 1979 young Donna (Lily James), Tanya (Jessica Keenan Wynn) and Rosie (Alexa Davies) graduate from Oxford University — leaving Donna free to embark on a series of adventures throughout Europe. On her journeys, she makes the acquaintances of Harry (Hugh Skinner), Bill (Josh Dylan) and Sam (Jeremy Irvine) — the latter whom she falls in love with, but he’s also the man who breaks her heart. In the present day, Donna’s pregnant daughter, Sophie (Amanda Seyfried), dreams of renovating a taverna while reuniting with her mother’s old friends and boyfriends on the Greek island of Kalokairi.
I watched the original Mamma Mia about a week ago and although I was entertained by it, I wasn’t a particularly huge fan of it, I didn’t really consider it to be a good movie but I had fun with it. Honestly I didn’t know what to expect from Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again, the pre-sequel to the first movie 10 years in the making. So I just expected a dumb and over the top with a bunch of great ABBA songs. However, it actually surprised me quite a lot. Basically all the issues I had with the first movie were fixed here, with a stronger story, better use of songs and some surprising emotion. And like the first movie it is really campy and entertaining.
Something that occurred to me over the course of my viewing was that it seemed that Mamma Mia 2 fixed all my problems with the first movie. First of all, Mamma Mia 2 has more of a story. The first movie felt really like talented actors doing drunk karaoke – ABBA edition. Mamma Mia 2 has much more of a plot, half of it focussing on Amanda Seyfried’s Sophie in present day and the other half on Lily James’s younger Donna in flashbacks. The first movie jammed a whole lot of ABBA songs into moments where they didn’t really need it, and almost felt like padding to extend the movie. With the sequel though, there are enough breathing moments and it didn’t feel like they were just shoving ABBA songs into the movie just for the sake of it and all the song segments seem to work appropriately for the story and movie. Whereas the first movie had some humour which didn’t really land (most of the comedy I found in that movie was unintentional), the sequel is genuinely funny. Last but not least, there are genuinely solid emotional scenes. I wasn’t emotional myself during the movie (most movies don’t really get me to be that way) but the emotional scenes were earned and were well done, and I’m not exaggerating when there were some people in the cinema that I was in that were legit crying in some scenes particularly near the end. The movie like the first is over the top and campy. If you were fine with how absolutely silly the first Mamma Mia was, you’ll have no problem with how silly the sequel can get. Whether it be some of the dialogue, the song transitions and segments, and just some of the goofy things that these characters do, for me it was just really fun to watch. I think I should also mention that you really shouldn’t expect much of Meryl Streep here. The film made a really weird decision considering that she was part of what made the first movie so successful. What I can say that it was a risky move that paid off in the end, the story did actually work well for it.
Most of the original cast returns with Amanda Seyfried, Christine Baranaski, Julie Walters, Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth, Stellan Skarsgard and Dominmic Cooper. It is a little jarring how much older all of them are now (10 years older to be exact) but they are good. One of the highlights of the original movie was that everyone there looked like they loved being there and are having a good time, thankfully that’s the same with the sequel. The younger cast also do well, whether it be the younger Meryl Streep, Christine Baranski, Julie Walters played by Lily James, Jessica Keenan Wynn and Alexa Davies, or whether it’s the younger Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth and Stellan Skarsgard played by Jeremy Irvine, Hugh Skinner and Josh Dylan respectively. They all feel like younger versions of the actors/characters. In terms of stands outs however, it’s really Lily James, she is really believable as a young Meryl/Donna and really leaves an impression. The other people in the cast is also pretty good. Cher is in the movie plays Streep’s mother and Seyfried’s grandmother and while she’s good, she really doesn’t end up living up to the hype that the movie was building her up to be, and no I’m not just referring to the trailers or the fact that they got Cher for the part. The problem is that despite the fact that she was built up from the very first scene, when she finally arrives, she doesn’t really do much or leave that much of an impact. It ultimately feels like they could’ve gotten any half decent singer and actress for the part and so in that aspect it felt a little underwhelming after all that build up (or they could’ve cut the character from the movie). With that said, Cher is good in the role. The singing is also generally good. Once again, the women do fare much better than the men, but the men were okay enough for the most part. And yes, Pierce Brosnan does do some singing in this movie but he is actually somewhat okay, then again most of his singing time is spent with dozens of other singers. The one moment when he did some singing on his own actually worked for the scene.
This first Mamma Mia was directed by Phyllida Lloyd, whereas the sequel is directed by Ol Parker, both movies are actually pretty well directed for what they are. Like with the original movie, Mamma Mia 2 takes advantage of its locations, it’s a really good looking movie. The song segments are all entertaining and wonderfully goofy when it needs to be. It’s also always great hearing ABBA songs.
Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again honestly surprised me, it was a little bit better than just being a dumb and goofy movie (though it very much is a dumb and goofy movie). It fixed the issues that I had with the first movie and I was able to enjoy the movie both ironically and unironically. Speaking as someone who was entertained by but wasn’t a massive fan of the first movie, I really think the second movie is a significant improvement. If you love the first movie and haven’t seen this one, you’ll definitely love the sequel, especially in a packed cinema. If you disliked the first movie, I highly doubt that the second movie would change things for you.