Movie #241 2020: Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again (2018)

The thing about sequels is that they’re rarely necessary (the obvious aside, e.g. The Godfather 2.) Saying that, even some of the unnecessary ones are brilliant (e.g. Toy Story 2.) But where does this Mamma Mia sequel fall in terms of need and/or greatness? Let’s see.

Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again comes as a follow up (and part-prequel) to 2008’s run away success Mamma Mia, which is based on the stage musical of the same name. Most of this movie is based on flashbacks from back in 1979, following a young Donna (who is played by Meryl Streep in the first film) on her journey through Europe. As a viewer, we are privy to witnessing how Donna met the three men who featured so heavily in the original movie, and – more importantly – how she came across the hotel in Greece that she would later go on to buy.

So, back to the above introduction to this review. Did we need a sequel to Mamma Mia? Probably not. But why not wring this cash cow out to maximum effect? After all, so many sequels are born out of the greed of studio execs rather than love of the craft, and it worked so well for franchises such as The Fast and the Furious, How To Train Your Dragon and the like, so why not? Plus it’s feel good, family nonsense, which is what we’re all looking for currently.

That’s not to say that Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again‘s stars didn’t come back for their love of their work, however. The cast is a mixed bag, but it is clear that every single on of them had a blast filming this. Lily James does a decent job with what she’s given, but I came here for Meryl, and unless you’ve managed to avoid spoilers for the past 2 years, then you’ll know that Meryl only plays an extremely minor role. And I mean extremely minor. What this sequel does have more of however is Queens of the Globe Christine Baranski and Julie Walters. It’s always a pleasure to be in their presence, and they are just as fun as they always have been here. Plus, the lesser known Jessica Keenan Wynn plays Baranski’s younger self and hits the nail on the head. Though she’s known more for her stage work, I’m sure that more Hollywood movies will come calling after this.

Of course the soundtrack is 10/10. It’s bloody ABBA for Christ’s sake. However, it is clear that the producers and writers definitely used up the better songs in the Swedish pop sensation’s repertoire in the first movie. (Minus Waterloo, of course. And When I Kissed the Teacher isn’t half bad either.) 

Though this is feel-good entertainment, one may find it difficult to care about the backstory aspect of this, which sadly took up the majority of the movie. It’s even more saddening to know that Richard Curtis wrote it, because he’s behind some of the better romance/comedy movies I’ve seen this year. Despite this, and half-arsed story aside, the scenery in this is freakin’ stunning. It made me want to run away to Greece and live in the sea. Not by the sea. But in the sea. You heard it here first: I want to be a mermaid.

So, whilst this is definitely not as entertaining as Mamma Mia, and the story doesn’t always grip an audience, at least Cher turns up at the end to save our souls from a mediocre movie. It’s good, but not great.

Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again is available to stream on Netflix in the UK.

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