Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again

 

            This sequel is a fun musical that offers clear lyrics, energetic performances, and features the music of Abba, the Swedish group of the 70's whose music has become iconic.  It's definitely not for the macho moviegoer who wants lots of action, car chases, explosions, and violence.  Those folks are going to be disappointed.  No sci-fi here.  No dramatic CGI usage.  It's a genteel throwback to an earlier era.

            But it's not exactly innocent and naive.  Those who saw the original “Mamma Mia!” know that the main character, Donna (Meryl Streep) had a daughter, Sophie (Amanda Seyfried), while living by herself on a remote Greek island, because she literally didn't know who the father was.  There were three viable candidates, and this was before the days of DNA testing.  The three Dads wound up all coming to Sophie's engagement party.

            Now, several years later, Donna has died, but Sophie is living her dream of restoring the old place into a resort hotel, and inviting all her friends, and all her Dads, to come to the grand opening celebration.  But suddenly all is not well for Sophie.  Her fiancee Skye (Dominic Cooper) has apparently decided to take that job in New York that was supposed to be a temporary assignment, essentially breaking up with her.  Two of her Dads can't come to the party.  And even worse, there's a big storm that blows away many of her labored-over decorations.  All this is told in song, and Amanda Seyfried, fortunately, has the kind of voice that is easy on the ears.

            So does Lily James, who plays Donna as a young woman.  Though it's not tremendously clear in the movie, what we're seeing is the backstory playing parallel to the main story.  The young Donna graduates and decides to go on a lark vacation with her two best friends, who together form a little singing group.  The two friends don't have much luck with the guys, but the young, vivacious Donna suddenly has three suitors in quick succession. We might love her free spirit ways, but there are serious consequences:  an unintended pregnancy.  But as we now know, Sophie grows up to be a lovely child and a winsome young woman.

            Yes, the songs are about love, but also loss.  There's one great cameo by Meryl Streep, as kind of an apparition, blessing a family gathering at the end  (how many movies culminate in an infant dedication/baptism?).  But there's also a cameo we could have done without: Cher playing the long-lost grandmother who wanders in to the party uninvited---and, of course, sings.

            It's a “niche” movie that will be very popular with a certain constituency, and avoided like the plague by others.  But for those who decide to avail themselves of the experience, it's light, lively, and family-friendly.

 

Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, DFW Film Critics Association