So I am gonna spoil how I felt about this movie right now. I did not enjoy it. I will say it’s an interesting addition to the Mamma Mia franchise but why did we have to go again?
To be fair, the movie does present some bright spots. The overall theme of this movie is going back to your roots. Amanda Seyfried is back as Sophie Sheridan. Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again opens as Sophie tries to open the Hotel Bella Donna, a business venture her mother always wanted to complete. It’s a cute sentiment and draws the audience into a captivating and lush side of Mamma Mia. Normally you only see a certain traditional homemaker kind of style in Mamma Mia. However, this hotel is designed like a upscale New York lounge. Sophie is also not alone. In the role of the Hotel Manager is Andy Garcia. He plays the mysterious and handsome Fernando CienFuego. Together the two plan a Premiere party to end all parties. As stated by Sophie it would have lots of press and many invites sent out to big names, but sadly one important guest will not be in attendance, Sky.
After Sophie plans out the Grand Opening Sky informs Sophie he must decide between running the Hotel in Greece with her or taking a deal to run a Hotel in New York. The two begin to fight and this opens the door to the film’s main plot. The main plot from this point on becomes Young Donna (Sophie’s Mother) and her struggles in her love life. Played by Lily James the story continues to inter-cut between Sophie and Donna illustrating how the mother and daughter duo we love are very much alike and their struggles of growing up are very similar. Again its a really cute sentiment but it adds virtually nothing to the story. After seeing Donna interact with Young Bill, Sam and Harry the movie kind of just ends and to be honest it’s nothing the audience doesn’t already know from seeing the first film.
Continually, the hotel Sophie is fixing up is already completed. The food is already out for all the guests, the whole place is painted and refurbished and the Welcome sign is hung up and ready to go on the pier. Unfortunately, because the film starts so far into the process there is no real story line for Seyfried or any of the present day cast to really act on and they are left just waiting for people to arrive to the party. The struggle of running a business is not felt at all in this movie and there is no sense of urgency or a sense of need to care how the story progresses. Another issue with the pacing of the story is the frequent cuts to young Donna. The audience constantly sees her toy with the idea of staying or leaving Greece, but again we already know she stays; virtually zapping the movie of it’s suspense or any care. Lily James is a great actress and throughout most of her scenes I found myself smiling but the whole story is entirely predictable because it was in fact laid out for you in Mamma Mia.
Another issue is the marketing. In the trailers it seems as though Donna’s friends Tanya and Rosie are telling Sophie the story of her mother’s past. However, this is not the case. The parallel storytelling happens almost immediately as the film starts and adult Tanya and Rosie don’t show up till about a quarter of the way into the film. Secondly, as you can see Cher is in this film. Despite being the jaw dropping moment of every trailer and being included in every poster the movie acts like she is an anonymous figure no one knows.
Poor marketing choices aside I think this movie was made for musical lovers and lovers of the first film. So if you are part of that demographic Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again is definitely a film you should see. With amazing Donna and the Dynamos’ performances by Meryl Streep, Lily James, Christine Baranski, Jessica Keenan Wynn and Julie Walters and Alexa Davies and the present day and young versions of the girls. The standout of the new cast is definitely Alexa Davies as the young Rosie. Being one of the more relateable and sympathetic characters that got the audience in my screening to laugh out loud during some of her scenes.
Continually, the film revamps classics that ABBA lovers will sing along to in the theater. Super Trooper is constantly played in the background and eventually becomes a big number in the film. It’s a great scene that gets the cast together and the audience really moving in their seats. We also see the triumphant return of “Dancing Queen” and “Fernando”. I won’t say which but one was sung by Cher and I instantly had to check my YouTube for any videos so I could listen to the tune again and again. Despite the marketing ruining what little plot there is in this film the music and the choreography makes this movie watchable.
All in all this movie is very cheerful and does have great music. However, I believe this movie was not suited for theaters but maybe a broadway or netflix platform. Clocking in with a 2 hour runtime and little to no story to tell I’d suggest waiting for this movie to release on digital or DVD. If you enjoy musicals then be prepared for your favorite characters from Mamma Mia to act for only a moment as an excuse to lead into a new heartfelt, shoe tapping song.