It’s been ten years since Mamma Mia! hit cinemas and became a nationwide sensation. Released at the same time as The Dark Knight, it was the ABBA discography musical that sold out cinemas across the country. It’s sequel is bigger, brighter, bonkers-er. In short – it’s exactly what we need right now. The film is a pocketful of sunshine, a ridiculous plot that shoehorns-in all manner of ABBA songs (some more well known than others) that is jam-packed full of joy. It’s impossible to resist so embrace it with both arms!
Five years on since the events of Mamma Mia and Sophie (Seyfried) is reopening the recently renovated Hotel Bella Donna on the island of Kalokairi, Greece. Her partner Sky (Cooper) is in New York undertaking specialist hotel training, which is part of an on-going argument they have about leaving Kalokairi – she wants to stay and he thinks they should move on. Luckily her mother’s best friends Tanya (Karanski) and Rosie (Walters) are on hand to help advise her and help her feel even closer to her mother with a spot of reminiscing, more than a few dreams and many songs to sing.
It is nigh-on impossible to describe what a feast for- or assault on, depending on your viewpoint – this film is. After a brief opener the film jumps straight to Oxford in 1979 where Donna (James as the junior, Streep as the senior) is being awarded valedictorian at her graduation ceremony. In a move unsurprising to the audience – unlike the fellow attendees – she uses the opportunity to serenade the room with ‘When I kissed the teacher.’ It’s cheesy, ridiculous and yet oh-so-much-fun. James is a true delight to watch, yet again providing a charm overload which is never saccharine or too-much. She lights up the screen again and again; truly a national treasure in the making.
We soon return to Sophie in the present day when a similar dialogue leads to a song moment occurs. Cue the structure of the rest of the film; utter contrivance that makes for truly joyous film-watching whilst also adding an extra layer of pathos to songs that may have initially seemed rather throwaway. The dialogue – and the dancing – may regularly lead to groans but you’ll groan with a big, fat stupid grin on your face. My personal favourite was the line ‘I visually enjoy you’ – something I plan on making a catchphrase.
However, the real reason the film works so well as it giant, beating heart it has at the centre. The reason this film and its predecessor are so beloved is the fact they are so universal. What we are watching is a love story, but not a romantic one. These are films which are about mothers and daughters, romantic love is a key part but not the main one. The very crux of these films is exploring the incredible connection between Donna and Sophie – so much so many of the audience were in tears whilst watching.
But, let’s not forget about Cher. Cher’s arrival truly turns things up to 11. I cannot wait (truthfully, not ironically) for her album of ABBA covers. If all the songs are even halfway as good as her Fernando then we’re in for a treat we do not fully deserve.
Dir: Ol Parker
Scr: Ol Parker
Cast: Lily James, Amanda Seyfried, Meryl Streep, Dominic Cooper, Pierce Brosnan, Stellan Skarsgård, Christine Baranski, Colin Firth, Cher, Julie Walters, Jeremy Irvine, Andy Garcia, Josh Dylan, Hugh Skinner, Celia Imrie.
Prd: Judy Craymer, Gary Goetzman,
DOP: Robert D. Yeoman
Music: Benny Andersson, Anne Dudley, Björn Ulvaeus.
Runtime: 114 minutes
Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again is in UK cinemas from July 20th.