A review of “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again”

I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed the original “Mamma Mia!” movie, so I was delighted at the notion of another outing for Abba’s wonderful music.

Like “The Godfather 2”, this is both a prequel (back to Donna’s graduation) and a sequel (forward to a grand re-opening of Donna’s island hotel) and director and co-writer Ol Parker has some smart juxtaposing of certain prequel and sequel scenes and picks up so many bits of the original storyline, deepening our appreciation and love of the characters.

One way or another all the stars from the first movie are back but, since we now have all those prequel scenes, there is a raft of new young stars portraying Donna and her two best friends and Donna’s three lovers as they were in 1979. All of the six young actors very cleverly anticipate the style and mannerisms of the older characters and Lily James is absolutely charming with splendid vocals as the young Donna.

Indeed the ensemble cast list is fabulous: as well as the 12 roles already alluded to (Julie Walters is so funny again), Amanda Seyfried is delightful as Donna’a daughter Sophie and there are some fun cameo appearances from Cher, Andy Garcia and Omid Djalili (stay till the very end of the credits to access every opportunity to laugh).

For all the familiarity of this second film, there are some significant differences that make this more than just an opportunist retread of an enormously commercial success.

Tonally, “Here we Go Again” is less the unremitting joy of the first outing and more poignant, with some heartbreak and a few very moving scenes, most notably when we hear “My Love, My Life”. The other main difference is in the music: in the main, we are treated to somewhat less familiar Abba songs, although we have new versions of old favoutites like the eponymous “Mamma Mia!” and (my favourite) “Dancing Queen”.

In short, a triumph and a delight that deservedly will be a massive hit.


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