‘Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again’ delivers another ABBA-centric feel-good flick

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‘Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again’ delivers another ABBA-centric feel-good flick

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Here we go again! Nearly 10 years to the day after the release of “Mamma Mia!,” Sophie Sheridan and company are back in “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again.”

All of the first film’s original cast have returned for the sequel, including Amanda Seyfried, Meryl Streep, Dominic Cooper, Christine Baranski, Julie Walters, Pierce Brosnan, Stellan Skarsgård and Colin Firth.

The film follows the characters five years following the events of “Mamma Mia!”: Sophie, played by Seyfried, is now running The Hotel Bella Donna following the recent death of her mother Donna, played by Streep. Amidst coping with the loss of her mother, Sophie is also preparing for the the grand reopening of the resort with her stepfather Sam, played by Brosnan. While preparing for the party, Sophie learns more about her mother’s past and how she ultimately met each of Sophie’s potential fathers.

Donna’s past is conveyed to the audience through flashbacks, with Lily James portraying the younger version of Streep’s character. James does an excellent job with the role, capturing Donna’s effervescent free spirit while not appearing as a pale imitation of Streep, a challenging task for any young actor. In addition to James’ spot-on portrayal of the younger Donna, Jessica Keenan Wynn and Alexa Davies hit it out of the park as the 20-something iterations of Donna’s best friends Tanya and Rosie. Wynn nails Tanya’s vivacious, cunning energy and Davies is hilarious as the feisty, romantically inept Rosie, with both actresses finding the perfect balance between homage of their older counterparts and original portrayal.

The musical numbers in this flick are great fun to watch, with the movie keeping a nice variety of upbeat, large-scale group numbers and emotional ballads. The new actors featured in the film are all impressive singers, while the returning cast continues to make a good musical impression. Musical highlights include Seyfried, Baranski and Walters crooning out “Angel Eyes”, James and Hugh Skinner, playing the young version of Firth’s Harry, going full camp for “Waterloo,” and the titular “Mamma Mia,” performed by James, Wynn and Davies.

The film’s emotional highlight comes at the very end, when Streep appears to sing “My Love My Life,” with her onscreen daughter. The scene is rather simple, but incredibly powerful. Streep and Seyfried have incredible chemistry, making for a more than believable performance of a mother and daughter longing for each other. The two capture the audience during the sequence, ensuring that there will be no dry eyes in the theater.

Despite the great casting and delightful musical numbers, the film’s weakest aspect is its plot.”

Despite the great casting and delightful musical numbers, the film’s weakest aspect is its plot. When comparing the original film to the sequel, several plot holes emerge. For instance, Donna’s mother in the first film is described as a strict Catholic woman, who is also implied to have died. In the sequel, however, Donna’s mother is alive and well, with Cher essentially portraying herself: a flamboyant, larger-than-life woman who belts out “Fernando” at a party she was not invited to. While Cher’s portrayal is a campy, iconic joy, it stands in great contrast to the no-nonsense woman described in the first film.

Additionally, the timeline established by the two films is not entirely believable. Donna is shown to be pregnant in 1979 after recently graduating from college, making her somewhere between 22 and 24 years old. The first film takes place 20 years after Donna’s pregnancy, putting her in her early-to-mid forties. This would mean that Donna died before the age of 50. The timeline-related choices are rather distracting, considering that most of older actors are well past 60 years old while playing characters nearly 20 years their junior.

Despite the story problems created by the sequel, “Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again!” is still a joy to watch. The acting, musical numbers and heart of the flick compensate for the lack of a consistent story, which quite honestly, was not the film’s main selling point to begin with. If you’re looking for a high-spirited, feel-good summer movie, look no further than the entire cast belting out “Super Trouper,” in full ABBA attire as the credits roll.