Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again review – catchy songs and decent laughs with a top-level cast

Colin Firth Stellan Skarsgaard Pierce Brosnan

Starring Christine Baranski, Pierce Brosnan, Dominic Cooper, Colin Firth, Andy Garcia. Directed by Ol Parker.


Imagine, if you can, Graham Norton and John Barrowman dressed as Tim Curry in The Rocky Horror Picture Show, engaged in a tickle fight, atop a bouncy castle shaped like Freddie Mercury’s moustache as David Bowie and Madonna sing the collective hits of The Bay City Rollers. This is but a fraction of just how camp Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, the sequel to Mamma Mia! is.

It seems like only last summer when we were first introduced to Donna, an ageing dancing queen and former Chiquitita, who watched her daughter slipping through her fingers as the winner took it all, confessing love for her honey, and saying I do, I do, I do, even if the name of the game meant facing her very own Waterloo— alright we’ll stop.

2008’s Mamma Mia! was a hoot; a story of a young woman trying to figure out which three dashing men might be her father, as her pending wedding forces her mother and her two horny friends to come to terms with their long-dormant fantasies. Naturally, it’s time to dust of the Abba Gold collection and do a Godfather Part II style prequel-sequel. This time around Sophie is having trouble with Sky, and trying to open the hotel which led her mother Donna to have a tryst with three different men.

Mama-Mia-Here-We-Go-Again

It’s needless to say but Abba are musical icons, their songs are catchy, and forcing them into a narrative is both the dumbest and smartest thing human beings have ever done in the realm of entertainment. For anyone who likes Abba, prepare to be so saturated in Abba songs you might question if you actually like them, only to then hear Fernando and remember that you do really, really love them, and they complete you.

All the returning players are great, with Julie Walters and Christine Baranski oddly given much more to do this time around, and squeeze more humour than you thought possible from a gag about crying at the mention of a name. There’s also a great deal of joy in the number of jokes about cake (there are many, many cake jokes). Though no line is as well written, well-timed and well delivered as Christine Baranski’s comment upon seeing Andy Garcia’s dashing hotel manager – “be still my beating vagina”.

Colin Firth Stellan Skarsgaard Pierce Brosnan

Colin Firth, Stellan Skarsgaard and Pierce Brosnan

But actually, the film is strongest when telling the story of Lily James’ young Donna as she navigates a future not yet defined, as three men come into her life each with different charms and reasons to fall. It’s easy to see why this is such a tasty idea, hinted at in the first, what really works is that Hugh Skinner, Jeremy Irvine and Josh Dylan are all perfectly cast, one a bumbling innocent, one a smooth talker and the other a classic leading man. But, moreover, James makes the whole thing work, she doesn’t so much as do a Streep impression as inhabit the same energy as her.

It helps that Alexa Davies and Jessica Keenan Wynn as the younger counterparts to Julie Walters and Christine Baranski are also dead on.

For a musical, the songs come thick and fast and the use of the chart-toppers (Waterloo, Dancing Queen, Mamma Mia) along with the lesser-known ones (Name of the Game, Angel Eyes) works well. But the big trailer moment, and the thing that will get most people hyped, is the big reveal of Cher as Sophie’s grandmother. Camp as anything, Cher does not dig deep into her Silkwood era past, but instead goes for pure bubblegum candyfloss fluff, so that when she begins singing Fernando you cannot do anything but grin and laugh until you’re singing along with her.

You could potentially pick holes in the story, the pacing, even the musical numbers but to do makes no sense this is the cinematic equivalent of prosecco. Sure, it tastes good, it’s fun to have, but it holds very little value. If men can make big robot fighting films that are boring as hell but called “big dumb fun” why can’t some top-level actors kick back with a film that wants to entertain you for two hours and along the way, maybe see if they can get Colin Firth to dance?


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