It’s hard to believe a full decade has passed since the quintessential ‘Feel Good Hit Of The Summer. Mamma Mia: The Movie was set on a small Greek island, starring one of the most acclaimed actresses of all time and a former Bond actor whose inability to sing somehow made the film more charming. Laced with 70’s disco grooves courtesy of mega pop band ABBA, it became one of the most talked about films of 2008, a box office triumph. Now the sequel is here and it’s time to feel good again – Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again is one of the most heartfelt, delightful and uplifting films you’ll see all year.
Right off the bat, we’re thrust into an unexpected series of events. Instead of ploddingly following on from the cliffhanger of the first, Here We Go Again takes us on a multi-faceted trip between two timelines. Starting in 1979, we meet a younger incarnation of Meryl Streep’s Donna Sheridan, just graduating university. Setting off to see the world with her two best friends in tow (and perhaps 3 familiar dashing young men), we are simultaneously treated to the adventures of her daughter Sophie in present day, with Amanda Seyfried reprising the role. Now this may be no Godfather II, but this split narrative works surprisingly well, and the transitions between the two timelines are smooth and well-paced.
“this may be no Godfather II, but this split narrative works surprisingly well”
During musical numbers such as ‘Waterloo’ and ‘When I Kissed The Teacher’, we’re taken to ridiculous heights of glee and showmanship; there’s more flare to the numbers than in the first, which, despite the context of a weightier story, somehow fits. The cast of Donna’s 1979 heyday are all given a real chance and – compared to their present-day counterparts – are really rather well cast.
The younger versions of Colin Firth, Peter Skarsgård and Pierce Brosnan – being Jeremy Irving, Josh Dylan, and Hugh Skinner – bear only a slight resemblance, but once ABBA’s music kicks in, things flow seamlessly. The real standout, however, is Lilly James as the young Donna. Fierce, brave and risk-taking, she exudes palpable charisma and charm in every scene, playing brilliantly off the male co-stars.
At this point, these films’ roots- as a hit West End musical seem almost humble. They’ve taken on so much of their own cinematic energy that they’re just something else entirely. The spirit, the excitement, the touching moments: Here We Go Again is a feast for the eyes, ears and spirit. Hopefully, however, the Mamma Mia extended universe will end here. After all, ABBA only have so many hits.