Ten years after Mamma Mia! The Movie grossed more than $600 million worldwide, you’re invited to return to the magical Greek island of Kalokairi in an all-new original musical based on the songs of ABBA.
Reprising their roles from Mamma Mia! The Movie are Academy Award winner Meryl Streep as Donna, Julie Walters as Rosie and Christine Baranski as Tanya. Amanda Seyfried and Dominic Cooper reunite as Sophie and Sky, while Pierce Brosnan, Stellan Skarsgård and Oscar winner Colin Firth return to play Sophie’s three possible dads: Sam, Bill and Harry, with new additions including Lily James playing the younger Donna, Andy Garcia and Oscar winner Cher.
Filling the roles of Young Rosie and Young Tanya are Alexa Davies (A Brilliant Young Mind) and Jessica Keenan Wynn (Broadway’s Beautiful). Young Sam is played by Jeremy Irvine (War Horse), while Young Bill is Josh Dylan (Allied) and Young Harry is Hugh Skinner (Kill Your Friends).
This prequel/ sequel is produced by Judy Craymer and Gary Goetzman, producers of the original film. Craymer is also the creator and producer of the worldwide smash-hit stage musical. Ol Parker, writer of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, writes and directs the musical from a story by Richard Curtis, Parker and Catherine Johnson, with Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus returning to provide music and lyrics and also serving as executive producers. Rita Wilson, Tom Hanks, Curtis, Phyllida Lloyd and Nicky Kentish Barnes also serve as executive producers.
Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again goes back and forth in time to show how relationships forged in the past resonate in the present. We follow Sophie in the present time as she tries to make her mother’s dream of opening a hotel in the island of Kalokairi.
She is joined by Rosie and Tanya, as they reminisce the life of Donna (Meryl Streep) who is revealed to have passed away already. The film then switches to 1979, during Donna’s younger years after graduating from her studies as she goes on an adventure of her own, meeting the three men who will change her life forever.
To be honest, there’s a lot of things that I really disliked about this prequel/ sequel musical. It’s obviously just an attempt from the producers to recreate the same success of the first film released ten years ago. This is evident in the film with its uneven pacing. The way the story jumps from the present to the past doesn’t really help the pacing of the movie as it disrupts the flow of the story. It felt like the script was written in a rush, making it look a bit messy on screen.
Then, there’s the transition to its musical numbers which mostly felt so forced. I’m no saying that the musical numbers are bad. No, they’re actually pretty good and I’ll tell you more about that later. What I’m really disappointed about is the way the scenes were cut into these musical numbers. They feel like the writer just decided “Hey, this song seems like it can fit in this scene. Let them sing it here!”
Some of the songs ended up feeling out of place during the musical numbers since they’re not really helping in pushing the story forward that you can’t help but scratch your head and just suck it all in.
Still, despite the film being a bit of a mess, I cannot deny the fact that it was really fun and entertaining. The musical numbers were executed really well, like the scene where Young Donna and the Dynamos sang When I Kissed the Teacher during their graduation rites, and their performance of Mamma Mia upon arriving in the island of Kalokairi.
There’s also the big production number of Dancing Queen featuring Sophie, Rosie, Tanya, Sam, Bill, Harry and almost a hundred dancers on some floating boats. But the most heartfelt part of the film was Sophie and Donna’s final moment together (My Love, My Life) that will definitely make you shed a tear or two. Then, there’s that wonderful song and dance number in the movie’s finale that will leave you breathless.
The whole cast did a really good job, especially Amanda Seyfried. She was able to convey all the emotions of Sophie’s character after the loss of her mother. Lily James who played the part of the younger Donna also deserves a lot of credit because she managed to carry the other half of the film with her amazing portrayal of her character. Alexa Davies and Jessica Keenan Wynn also deserve praise for their brilliant portrayal of the Young Rosie and Tanya.
Their comedic timing was impeccable and they share great chemistry with Lily James during their scenes as the Young Dynamos. Julie Walters and Christine Baranski will also make you laugh out loud with their funny quips and jokes. It was also really fun to see original cast members Pierce Brosnan, Stellan Skarsgård, and Colin Firth as they return in this film, though they weren’t given much to do.
It was such a delight to see the Goddess of Pop Cher again in another musical after 2010’s Burlesque. Watching her sing Fernando will definitely give you goosebumps. But the one that we were all looking forward to was, of course, Meryl Streep, who unfortunately only appeared for just a few minutes worth of cameo (despite being billed as one of the film’s leads in all of its promotional materials). But even though she only appeared for a short period of time, her scene with Amanda Seyfried as her daughter was the film’s most unforgettable moment.
So regardless of the film’s faults, fans of the first movie and anyone who enjoys watching musicals will definitely fall in love with Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again. A mixed bag it might be but it’s just so hard to hate this one with all its charms.
You’ll have no choice but to give in to the music and eventually, sing along to the chorus of its songs without you realizing it. Just be ready to suffer some LSS (Last Song Syndrome) long after the credits roll. “My my, how can I resist you?”