The unexpected, best named sequel is upon us: Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again.
With the cast that you loved and the music you love more, it’s back with a few new faces and a hole in its heart. The wonderful Donna has died, as unimaginable as that may be, and those she loved are left trying to move on without their spirited dancing queen.
Donna’s daughter Sophie, now 25, is attempting to reopen her mother’s hotel as the new and improved Bella Donna in her honour. Although the trailers make it seem like Sophie’s pregnancy will take centre stage, this is not the case, and while her relationship with Sky is on the rocks, they are still together (honestly, I was worried he’d left her, or died, or something). And Sophie is not without her mother in spirit, as lame as that sounds.
The majority of the film is comprised of flashbacks of Donna’s youth—from when she was travelling to her future island-home and meeting each of the guys, in outrageously handsome form, along the way.The musical and dance numbers are as fun as ever, with some lesser known ABBA songs thrown in there for fans to enjoy. Each of the boys’ scenes and subsequent songs were hilarious—in fact, I was in hysterics for the majority of the film.
There are some fantastic lines, ranging from Tanya’s (Christine Baranksi) first reaction to the ruggedly handsome Señor (Andy García),“Be still my beating vagina”, to a forthright ferry-man (Omid Djalili) who provides amusing commentary on how each character passing through has aged, (in which Bill’s “face has collapsed” and Harry is remarked on with glowing admiration and attraction—to the agreement of the entire cinema).
A huge overarching conflict never arises, since the characters are focused on figuring out how to keep going after Donna’s death—which seems like a small plot point on paper but is monumental to the characters—but this makes the film more beautiful. The sequel also focuses on the importance of family, blood or not, and provides no deeper messages other than to keep loving one another. Be prepared for the inevitable flood of emotions that will arrive towards the end of the film, with a certain heart wrenching scene that left the woman in front of my crying out, “Oh my god, that is too sad!”, much to the teary amusement of those around her.
Unfortunately, the film has some features that distract from the special moments of this ABBA-empowered musical. Cher was one of these ultimately unwelcome distractions. Referred to hilariously by other reviewers as looking more like “Lady Gaga’s aunt”, she just popped up out of nowhere in her blonde wig with no mention of the strict Catholic mother she was supposed to portray. Sure, they mentioned that she was never there for her daughter or granddaughter, and presumably not around after her death either. And everyone was oh-so-shocked that she was ready to start giving a crap about her family when she turned up unexpectedly, but it was completely brushed aside. Just as quickly as she appeared everyone was fine with it, despite her never being around in Sophie’s 25 years of existence. I will admit, Cher’s rendition of Fernando was fantastic, but it should have stopped there, as there’s a few points that feel as though she’s being filmed more as a contract necessity than anything meaningful or important, since her character adds absolutely nothing to the story. Whenever she was cut to in the middle of a touching moment between the main cast I couldn’t help thinking, Go away! You’re not a part of this! which made for a few frustrating moments.
Despite this, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again carries on the spirit of the first film. It’s still fun, it’s still cheesy, Pierce Brosnan still can’t sing, but in the end these things add to the charm of the film. After all, it has the songs we love to keep singing, fantastic comedy, and wonderful characters that fans of the first film will fall in love with all over again.
Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again is in cinemas today.