I recently saw the sequel to Mamma Mia! And boy, do I have a lot of feelings about it. Some are positive, some are negative.
Let us begin with the title of the movie: Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again. At first glance, this is simply a clever way to name a sequel besides putting a number at the end of the original title. But, as any ABBA fan knows, it is a lyric from the song “Mamma Mia.”
Some of the songs in the sequel were the same as those used in the first musical, but there were many others, mostly lesser-known, used as well. Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again is more music-heavy than the original, whose songs were clearly picked from ABBA’s greatest hits.
I fell in love with Donna in this movie, which was not helped by the fact that she was played by my very favorite actress, Lily James. James is not only a good actress, singer, and dancer, she is also gorgeous and one of the few non-natural blondes who can pull off blonde hair. Donna played by James in this prequel/sequel was utterly charming. She was sweet, reckless, romantic, adventurous, and ambitious – a devastating mixture. No wonder she had three men fall completely in love with her over a period of a week or two. Frankly, I’m quite surprised it wasn’t more.
But. There were a few issues I had with the movie in relation to its original. Firstly, in the original Mamma Mia! movie it is mentioned that Donna’s mother instills “Catholic guilt” in her. This seems unlikely, as it is revealed in Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again that Donna’s mother is largely absent, performing in Las Vegas to adoring crowds. Not to make assumptions, but if Donna’s mother was constantly playing Vegas, she was most likely not a regular church-goer, because of her schedule. More likely and more defensible is the fact that if Donna’s mother was constantly performing and jetting off all over the world, she wasn’t with Donna enough to instill an innate sense of guilt based on Catholicism within her daughter.
Then there was my biggest issue: the timeline. The original stage musical took place in the nineties, which made sense, as Donna was supposed to have had Sophie very young in the late seventies/early eighties. This time period was the one during which ABBA was most popular. Sophie in the original movie is twenty years old, placing the original around the turn of the twenty-first century. In the sequel, Donna graduates college, then goes on to have Sophie soon after. So, assuming Donna is twenty-two or twenty-three when she has Sophie, when Sophie is getting married at twenty Donna should only be in her early forties. This is confusing, because she was played by the then-fifty-nine-year-old Meryl Streep (though I will admit I really love and admire her immense talent). Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again supposedly takes place five years after Mamma Mia!, but the technology is quite advanced, with many of the characters using some of the latest iPhones. Amanda Seyfried, who plays Sophie in both movies, while beautiful and still rather young, does not look ten years after the original movie like she is a twenty-five-year-old – mainly because she is not a twenty-five-year-old. All in all the timeline and casting were so messed up and confusing that the combination truly upset me, which distracted me from enjoying the movie a little bit.
Another, much smaller issue, was the fact that playboy Bill mentioned an elderly aunt on the island, and in the first movie it is explained that Donna inherited the inn she runs from an elderly woman she cared for on the island for the beginning of Sophie’s life. This elderly aunt never appears but in passing mention in the second movie, and Donna is given the inn by a kind middle-aged local woman.
In the end, the music was excellent, the visuals were stunning, the acting was good, the dancing great, the story incredibly touching. I definitely found myself stifling sobs in the theater during the end of the movie, something that has only happened once before during The Fault in Our Stars (but that was an open sobbing).
I would recommend this movie a million times over. It was fun and pretty and good. And, if it had major flaws, these flaws did not prevent enjoyment of the movie too much. Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again is a movie that I am glad I saw in theaters, whose soundtrack I listen to ad nauseum, and a DVD I will ask for for Christmas. That is my recommendation.
Did you see Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again? Did you like it? Did you find any of the flaws or more than I found?