Fans of ABBA will not be able to resist the sequel to the 2008 hit musical
ABBA fans will need no persuading to watch the sequel to the 2008 film which had us up on our feet, singing and dancing to the Swedish pop group’s greatest hits. Ten years later we return to the same Greek island, and from the moment Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) is seen gliding through the restored hotel—a homage to her late mother, Donna (Meryl Streep)—you will find a smile appearing on your face that remains there till the end credits roll.
Sophie is married to Sky (Dominic Cooper) and, barring the absence of Donna, all the other characters remain in place. Sophie’s three dads—Sam (Pierce Brosnan), Harry (Colin Firth) and Bill (Stellan Skarsgård)—are still in her life, as are her mother’s two best friends, Tanya and Rosie. Disappointed that Sky might not make it back from New York in time for the grand reopening of the hotel, Sophie begins reminiscing about her mother.
Written by Richard Curtis, Ol Parker and Catherine Johnson (who created the original musical), the screenplay goes back and forth between Sophie’s present and Donna’s past. Parker, who also directs, nimbly moves between the present day and the past. In 1979 a young Donna (Lily James) embarked on her travels, which resulted in encounters with Harry, Bill and Sam, and her love affair with the island (though the actual location used is an island off Croatia). This is juxtaposed with Sophie’s angst over her relationship with Sky, preparations for the party, supervised by hotel manager Cienfuegos (played by a brooding Andy Garcia), and the arrival of Tanya and Rosie (Christine Baranski and Julie Walters, delivering unrestrained performances).
But the story is hardly the thing here. The hook is ABBA’s music, and while the soundtrack does overlap with the first part, some lesser-known songs have been included too, such as I’ve Been Waiting For You and My Love, My Life. When I Kissed the Teacher, Fernando and Angel Eyes make especially fun appearances. Original band members Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus are music producers, executive producers and turn up in cameos.
Streep is certainly missed. Though Donna’s framed photo is hanging on the wall, yet she remains an all-pervasive force for the main characters. Enter Cher as the irreverent and unconventional platinum blond grandmother. It’s worth the ticket money just to see her perform Fernando. No one can do camp quite like Cher.
James and Seyfried, obviously cast for their similar looks and styled with identical blond flowing curls, sing and act commendably. The one grouse is in the casting of the young versions of Bill, Sam and Harry, who could have been more attractive to match up to the charm of the older versions of themselves.
This musical comedy, in jukebox format, will be loved by fans of the band, but might be dismissed as cheesy by the rest. Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again blends kitsch and nostalgia delightfully, dressing it up in Greek shades of white and blue and vivid ‘70s style. So brush up on Mamma Mia, Super Trouper and The Name of the Game, gather your school friends and get ready to singalong in the cinema.
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