The title of this tells you everything you need to know. Everything they did, they’re doing again. More ABBA, more horrible dialogue and more cheesy hammed-up performances. And you know what, Ol Parker (this instalment’s director) has absolutely Nailed It! It’s a rare thing to watch a film that is so utterly naff and yet is so utterly uplifting and enjoyable.
Much of this sequel’s appeal comes from Lily James, whose role as young Donna (Meryl Streep) absolutely steals the show. Lily James is a fantastic actress, with such amazing charisma, charm and talent that you can’t help but fall in love with young Donna as she tries to find life’s meaning… and a man. It must also be said that she has a beautiful voice and her songs are all delivered with lovely timing and meaning. In fact, all the young leads, playing the 1979 counterparts of their modern-day characters, are brilliantly cast, despite for the most part indulging simply in hilarious caricatures of the older actors. The returning older cast still all get their moment of glory though; Colin Firth is still an awkward British prat, Pierce Brosnan still can’t sing for toffee, and Meryl Streep still gets the audience teary eyed in her reduced role.
Of course, what makes Mamma Mia 2 so great is ABBA, and it’s exactly what made the first such a success. ABBA’s songs are, it seems, indestructible. They can have anything done to them (like get utterly butchered by an actor who can’t sing), and yet, within the fabric of their DNA, the songs still survive by having a monumental sense of uplifting whimsy. It’s a mildly regrettable admittance that I cried a hell of a lot during this film. Way more than I ever anticipated. The story is pretty bog standard and any twists are ruined if you’ve seen even one of the trailers. But the emotion of the film, the family relationships, the cast who perform them and the songs that underscore them, are what makes this film such a win. It never tries to be more than it is, it knows completely what it’s doing and it is unashamed.
Technically, the film is an anomaly. Some of the scenes feature great editing and very technical and interesting cuts, camera angles and scene transitions. But on the other hand, some of the film is so shoddily edited that lip syncing goes completely out the window in favour of a big dance number. But again, the film doesn’t care. It’s not trying to win any awards, it’s just trying to uplift so ultimately all the technical faults can be forgotten about.
I must say that personally I was not a fan of Cher’s part in the film and felt it ruined the film slightly. She demanded too much of the spotlight, so towards the end some of the other characters fell by the side to allow her to take centre stage. I also felt that her processed voice did not blend well with the rest of the cast, who sounded more like they were singing along with ABBA in the car than performing it for commercial value.
Overall, Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again is a brilliant example of a film that can transport you away for two hours into a world of ridiculous whimsy. It is utterly charming, brilliantly entertaining and will have you playing the soundtrack on repeat for days after viewing.