Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again : My, My.

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It’s the summer, life is terrible and the heat is unbearable. Thank God then, for another Mamma Mia! has arrived! Will we be thanking the filmmakers for the music, or sending out an SOS in the auditorium?

Nothing can quite prepare you for Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again. For the uninitiated among you, it’s the sequel to 2008’s Mamma Mia!, the movie adaptation of the musical featuring everyone’s favourite ABBA songs. It also ended up making a lot of money so despite having a definite endpoint, a sequel was inevitable (we’re talking a LOT of money).

And so here we are, ten years down the line and the last few recognisable ABBA hits later, a sequel is born. Given the success of the first it’s surprising that Here We Go Again has had such a muted marketing campaign up to now, which for me at least suggested the worst for the end product.
What a joy it is then, to say that this might be one of the most enjoyable experiences I’ve had in a cinema this year.

The paper-thin story follows on a few years after the end of the first movie, just before the grand opening of a hotel overseen by Amanda Seyfried. This is basically the framing for a prequel all about Meryl Streep’s character; how she met the three potential fathers to Seyfried’s Sophie, and how she came to the island that would lay our scene for both movies. Along the way are some very painfully shoved-in ABBA standards (and a few album tracks), this time with mercifully less Pierce Brosnan honking and more Lily James, who plays young Meryl Streep.

Also, Cher is in this.

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Cher, who is also in the film

It’s testament to Benny Anderson & Björn Ulvaeus’ songwriting that despite the cast’s best efforts, the songs here are so fun to listen to despite being jammed into the narrative. Brosnan aside, there’s still a bit of honking fun with W1A‘s Hugh Skinner doing his best foghorn impression through Waterloo and Dominic Cooper coming in very flat when having a stab at One of Us.

Everyone’s game for a laugh throughout despite that, but the female actors here are the stars that shine brightest. Lily James has the lion’s share of the running time and she never outstays her welcome, and Julie Walters absolutely steals the show as one third of Donna & The Dynamos, though being Julie Walters it’d be more of a surprise if she didn’t.

Also, Cher is in this.

Yes, the promotional material in the run-up to MM!HWGA‘s release focusses a great deal on everyone’s favourite plastic faced autotune pioneer, and for the most part it’s fairly justified. She gets four costume changes in the 10 minutes or so she’s on screen, and has a stab at a couple of the more famous ABBA songs in this instalment. This is all without mentioning the one moment that, depending on your experience up to that point with this film, will either have your eyes rolling out of your head or bursting out with knowing laughter.

The one big difference in this sequel to the original Mamma Mia! is that we’re laughing with the movie, not at it (well, maybe a bit at it). The first movie played everything fairly straight up until the very end, and here at last the filmmakers have realised that there’s a bit of winking and self-deprecation to be had in a film as loveably cheesy as this. That’s not to say that it doesn’t pack an emotional punch as well: the final few moments of the movie had a few people around me audibly sobbing and I must admit – I found myself getting more than a bit choked up.

For a film that had no need or right to exist, it’s a whole lot of fun and a real balm to events going on in the real world. Sure it’s mawkish and silly, and half the cast sound like they’re on an all-night karaoke binge, but to torture the metaphor completely, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again is like the mate that lets you join in the fun and then tells you how much you mean to them after a few too many, and Mamma Mia! is the guy who doesn’t drink and hogs the mic.

In short, I loved this film.

Also, Cher is in this.

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