The lyrics of the title song also make for a perfect review: “Mamma Mia, here we go again, how could I resist you?”
The answer, my friends, is you can’t. This time around the gang is back for another romp around a fantastically beautiful Greek island telling two different stories.
The first is in the present day and has Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) getting ready for a big re-opening party for Donna’s (Meryl Streep) recently redone inn. The second is set in 1979 and tells the story of young Donna (Lily James) meeting the three men in her life and how she ended up on the island pregnant with Sophie.
The film weaves between the two timelines fairly seamlessly and the younger cast do their older counterparts proud. Taking on a role originated by Meryl Streep must be an actor’s worst nightmare but Lily James gives a performance full of spunk and sparkle — and she can really sing.
Christine Baranski and Julie Walters return as Donna’s bff’s, Tanya and Rosie, and they continue to steal their every scene. Baranski (an actor who has never fully received the recognition she so truly deserves) as man-crazy Tanya brings down the house with a couple of outrageous lines, and Walters continues to charm with her purposefully clumsy physical comedy.
The older men are all back again (Stellan Skarsgard, Colin Firth and Pierce Brosnan) but the filmmakers learned from the first movie and don’t really let any of them sing except in group numbers.
Luckily their younger counterparts (Josh Dylan, Hugh Skinner and Jeremy Irvine) are much more talented singers and do the heavy lifting.
It’s a reality of ABBA’s song catalogue that most of their number one hits were used in the first movie, leaving the sequel with a lot of B-sides. But not to fear, they smartly bring back a few crowd pleasers from the original and allow the lesser-known ballads to complement the sometimes slightly melancholy atmosphere of this follow up.
On top of that, they add the one-and-only Cher to the cast as Donna’s mother (an act of movie math magic – Cher is only three years older than Meryl Streep) and she dominates her 16 minutes of screen time like you can only imagine she would.
Yes, the movie is cheesy and ridiculous and the plot doesn’t hold up under even the slightest scrutiny (ex. Donna says her mother is dead in the first movie) but it doesn’t matter.
It’s fizzy, funny, unexpectedly moving and impossible to hate unless you’re a professional grump. Give in to its two hours of over-the-top fun – you won’t be disappointed.