The pop group ABBA had enough fans worldwide to make Mamma Mia! a huge hit ten years ago. The fans still exist, and there were songs left over, which is as good an excuse as any to make a sequel. So Ol Parker takes over from Phyllida Lloyd, to direct Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, with the same bounce and sunny optimism—set a film on a lovely Greek island, and no human shall be left unpaired.
Everyone will think to pack frilly bell bottom trousers, feather boas and gogo space boots into their suitcases wherever they go, so that they can break into ABBA songs. There is even a character called Fernando (Andy Garcia), so that Cher gets to sing Fernando! It’s that kind of happy-making film—a prequel-cum-sequel to Mamma Mia! which cuts between the past and present with easy fluidity.
In the present, Sophie (Amanda Seyfriend), who had married Sky (Dominic Cooper) in the last film, is preparing for the opening of her hotel Bella Donna, named after her dead mother. In the original, the big question was, which of the three men Donna dallied with in her youth –Harry, Bill, Sam—is Sophie’s father.
Lily James plays young Donna (Meryl Streep played the older), who graduates singing When I Kissed The Teacher, with her two gal pals Tanya and Rosie (Jessica Keenan Wynn, Alexa Davis). She then goes off to Paris “to make memories” and runs into the young Harry (Hugh Skinner). Later, on her way to the Greek Island of Kalokairi, she meets the younger versions of Bill and Sam (Josh Dylan, Jeremy Irvine), and when all the romances end, finds herself pregnant.
Sophie’s grand opening is running into some trouble, however, but nothing that some song-and-dance cannot fix. Donna’s friends are there for support (the older versions played by Christine Baranski and Julie Walters); the dads are all present, Colin Firth, Stellan Skarsgard and Pierce Brosnan, playing the older versions. Estranged grandmother Ruby (Cher in full diva mode), arrives uninvited.
The plot is cheesy, but there is so much good cheer and beauty (faces and landscapes) to spare, that only the most churlish would stop from tapping their feet to the songs—sung by the actors themselves. The ensemble cast dressed in lovely costumes, look like they are having fun, and when the chorus turn up for the group dances, any residual resistance crumbles. Such exuberance is infectious. movie review