‘Here we go again’ is the tagline and while it does rehash a few classic tracks from the first film, as a sequel Mamma Mia 2 leaves a lot to be desired. The other day I bought into the hype and took myself to the movies to see it and despite the soundtrack selling out like crazy, sales of the first movie going through the roof, and the endless stream of customers I’ve had raving about the film, I have to say that I was (again) disappointed. If I take away anything from this experience, it’s that I really need to stop buying into hype; first The Greatest Showman and now this…
Set five years after the first movie, Mamma Mia 2 chronicles Sophie’s remodelling of her mother’s hotel and putting on a spectacular party for its grand re-opening. Sadly, things start to fall apart as she and Sky have relationship problems, two of her three fathers say they can’t attend the party, and a great storm destroys most of the décor. Running parallel to Sophie’s story is a flashback story that chronicles a young Donna’s travels to Greece and the three romances she has before discovering she’s pregnant.
To get the nastiness out of the way first, this is a badly written film. Most of it is just lazy with unstimulating dialogue and shoddy tie-ins to the first film. But my major problem with it is the consistency issue: Cher’s character. No spoiler warning, as the trailer gives it away, but Cher plays Sophie’s grandmother, Donna’s mother. Now, in the first film Donna herself, while admittedly never really saying, heavily implies that her mother is dead: “someone up there has got it in for me, I bet it’s my mother.” Descriptions of Donna’s mother in the first film also lead us to believe that she’s a conservative woman. Cher’s character is a glamorous singer who travels the world, no doubt has had many romances herself, and is definitely not the woman we’ve been lead to believe that Donna’s mother is. More to the point, she shouldn’t even be in the film!! Unless she’s an incredibly well preserved corpse (which would explain why she looks younger than Meryl Streep) there is no way she could be around for a party five years after Meryl said that line. While I really do love Cher, her character was entirely pointless and a classic example of people writing in characters because they wanted big names in the cast.
But despite the lazy writing, the lack of drama, and the massive consistency issue, I have to get credit where credit is due. The performances are all wonderful. Lily James as a young Donna is such a pure and free spirit, impossible not to fall in love with, and Alexa Davis, Jessica Keenan Wynn, Hugh Skinner, Josh Dylan, Jeremy Irvine, who played a young Rosie, Tanya, Harry, Bill, and Sam all did incredibly well.
The overall feel of the film is bubbly and full of life. Classic ABBA tracks that didn’t make it into the first movie are given their chance to shine and everyone does a wonderful job of them. The costumes are a triumph too with bellbottoms and jumpsuits for days! And despite being angry about some things I found myself enjoying others; I chuckled, I teared up, and yes I even sang along with a few of the songs. While it’s not critically or even cinematically exceptional, Mamma Mia 2 is fun and while it doesn’t reach anywhere near the heights of the first film, it’s not entirely terrible (but I won’t be adding it to my collection).