Director: Ol Parker
Starring: Lily James, Amanda Seyfried, Dominic Cooper, Pierce Brosnan, Stellan Skarsgård, Christine Baranski, Colin Firth, Cher, Julie Waters, Jeremy Irvine, Andy Garcia, Josh Dylan, Hugh Skinner, Meryl Streep
Whilst it had its critics, Mamma Mia! was a runaway success; a feel-good sing-a-long summer hit. Based on the original stage musical which utilizes the seemingly never-ending back catalogue of ABBA, it has taken a whopping 10 years to see a sequel.
It might be the sequel we never asked for, but there is an undeniable charm to Here We Go Again which means, despite its numerous faults, it is another sunny slice of escapism, and the perfect antidote to the constant barrage of bad news and despair. Forget Trump, forget Brexit, the Mamma Mia! gang are back to transport us to the picturesque Kalokairi, and boy is it good to be back.
The plot, much like the first film, is non-essential, and indeed it is even flimsier this time around. If it felt like Mamma Mia! was a series of ABBA songs with a small side plate of plot, then those hungry for narrative will find themselves ravenous this time around. But, we’re not here for the plot, we’re here for escapism and songs, and Here We Go Again has that in abundance.
What it severely lacks in Meryl Streep, it makes up for in Lily James, who is effortlessly charming as the young Donna. The flashback scenes, despite their wild inconsistencies with the story told in the first film, are the real highlight, and James in particularly is endlessly watchable.
It doesn’t always switch between the narratives easily, and there are times in present day Kalokairi that it feels like poor Amanda Seyfried is doing nothing but walking around tearing her hair out or telling people things “look great”. The dual narratives serve their purpose though and there’s some rather touching Mother-Daughter moments as their stories grow closer together; something which works even with the absence of Streep.
The song and dance numbers continue to be the highlight, and a reprise of Mamma Mia and Dancing Queen are the stand-outs in terms of spectacle. The storytelling of ABBA’s songs is perhaps even better integrated this time, and the film delves much further into their back catalogue to discover some hidden gems, and sure-to-be new favourites for this generation of ABBA fans.
She arguably stole the trailer, and from the moment Cher rocks up as Sophie’s estranged Grandmother, the film is hers. Her duet with Andy Garcia is also one of the stand-outs; more Cher in everything please!
I saw this movie and you should too. Look, this film isn’t going to win awards, and for all it’s faults (the script, the terrible green-screen, the non-existent plot), Here We Go Again is harmless fun and full of joy. It’s not a good film, it would be foolish to pretend otherwise. But is it a good time? My, my, how can I resist you!