Whether Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again reads like a cheer or a threat depends entirely on how much you enjoyed the first film. Let’s be honest, you know exactly what you’re getting here.
Nominally a Mamma Mia! sequel, but spiritually an adaptation of the ‘Live, Laugh, Love’ sign, Here We Go Again treads similar ground to its predecessor but with enough ingenuity to keep things interesting. The paternity question which hung over Mamma Mia! is relived in flashback, with younger versions of Sam (Pierce Brosnan), Bill (Stellan Skarsgård) and Harry (Colin Firth) courting a younger Donna (Lily James/Meryl Streep) across Europe.
The resultant plot is fired out at breakneck speed, but is thankfully simple enough not to become too confusing. Director Ol Parker fully embraces the glorious feel-good vibe of the musical numbers, particularly when choreographing to more upbeat songs. A brilliantly buffoonish ‘Waterloo’ in a Parisian restaurant between Young Harry (Hugh Skinner) and Young Donna, and a euphoric nautical reunion set to ‘Dancing Queen’ are instant highlights.
The cast all gamely warble their way through ABBA’s back catalogue, though the quality of their vocals isn’t really the point. This is a parallel universe where singing your heart out is far more important than singing well, and it’s a joyous place to be. Out of musical mode the stars of the show are Julie Walters and Christine Baranski, though inevitably Cher threatens to steal the film in her brief appearance.
The biggest mistake people make when criticising Mamma Mia! is assuming that its broad, cheesy, sincere tone is a failing rather than exactly what the makers were aiming for all along. Here We Go Again bottles the beautiful chaos of bad karaoke for one of the most pure and joyous films in years.
CAST: Amanda Seyfried, Lily James, Meryl Streep, Cher, Julie Walters, Christine Baranski, Pierce Brosnan, Stellan Skarsgård, Colin Firth, Jeremy Irvine, Josh Dylan, Hugh Skinner, Andy Garcia, Dominic Cooper,
DIRECTOR: Ol Parker
WRITERS: Ol Parker (screenplay); Richard Curtis, Ol Parker and Catherine Johnson (story by); Judy Craymer (originally conceived by); Catherine Johnson (based on the original musical by)
SYNOPSIS: In this sequel to Mamma Mia!, Sophie learns about her mother’s past while preparing for the grand opening of the hotel Bella Donna.