Film Review: "Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again" doesn't let a plot get in the way of a good time
For a lot of us, musicals are a guilty pleasure. Whether it is the almost Best Picture-worthy La La Land, the classic Grease, or the God-tier High School Musical, I think most of us are able to appreciate at least a couple films from the genre (usually with a glass of wine and eventual singalong).
And then we were given Mamma Mia! a film that gave us ABBA ft. plot. We were gifted with Colin Firth’s spontaneous character dancing in with his shirt off. We were troubled by the Kermit the Frog vocal stylings of Pierce Brosnan. We were blessed with Meryl Streep schooling Brosnan on how singing is done via “The Winner Takes It All”. We were happy.
As I am a fan of both musicals and Colin Firth, Mamma Mia! is a film that I watch at least twice a year. I unapologetically rank it in my top 10 films. So when the trailer for Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again dropped, I was cautiously optimistic.
The plot jumps back and forth in time. The flashbacks are of young Donna (Lily James) finding her way to the idyllic fictional Greek Island of Kalokairi…add in a couple of meet-cutes with Sam (Jeremy Irvine), Bill (Josh Dylan), and Harry (Hugh Skinner), and we’ve got ourselves some drama. The present covers Sophie (Amanda Seyfreid) preparing for the grand opening of the island’s hotel “Hotel Bella Donna” with some help from cast members from the previous film.
James shines in the film, portraying Donna as the carefree idealistic young woman who the audience can genuinely believe was capable of becoming a great love to three different men in such a short period of time. The younger counterparts to the original cast members are all CW-esque, and that’s fine because it’s meant to be a beautiful and entertaining film--who needs substance when we have ABBA?
Realistically, you already knew if you’d enjoy the film before you read this review. If you didn’t like the first film, you won’t enjoy the second. If you don’t like ABBA, this definitely won’t be your cup of tea. This isn’t an amazing film. There is barely a story linking the musical numbers. And for what little plot there is, film continuity is lacking. Cher plays Meryl Streep’s mother despite being three years older than her. Some of the younger cast members struggled, especially when you compare them to their present day equivalents. One of the biggest draws from the previous film was Streep, and yet somehow a decision was made to make her barely as part of this sequel/prequel hybrid. Most concerning, there is barely any Colin Firth.
But we all knew there would be flaws. They don’t stop the film from being an entertaining affair. I could continue to write everything that wasn’t right, but it doesn’t change the fact that if you enjoyed Mamma Mia! you are required to enjoy Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again. It’s a rule.
Cher singing ABBA was enough to make the film worth it. Firth and Stellan Skarsgard holding each other on a boat a la Titanic was enough to make the film worth it. The Streep and Seyfried duet was enough to make the film worth it.
I’m already planning my second viewing.