Thursday, July 19, 2018

Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again

Both sequel and prequel to 2008's Mamma Mia!, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again returns most of the core cast for another romcom plot set to the music of ABBA. Since we saw her last, Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) has managed to breathe new life in the dream of her recently departed mother (Meryl Streep) and is working towards the grand opening of the hotel. The return of her mother's best friends (Christine Baranski and Julie Walters) helps lessen the pressure of her estranged relationship to Sky (Dominic Cooper) and the absences of two of her three fathers on the eve of the big day.

There are some improvements here as co-writer and director Ol Parker limits the singing roles for some actors who struggled in the first film while allowing other actors to carry the bulk of the musical numbers. The flashback plot to Donna's original trip to Greece allows the casting of younger versions of all the characters in actors who are a bit more comfortable belting out the songs when called upon. Lily James is the stand-out as the younger Donna as the other actors look to have been primarily cast first for their physical likeness, second for their singing ability, and (unfortuantely) last for their ability to act.

The first 10-15 minutes of Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again are borderline excrutiating. I thought I had made a serious mistake in giving this sequel a chance. Things begin to pick up with the duet of "Waterloo," and the film settles down into a marginally entertaining film with some stand-out numbers and expected emotional beats (but also more than its share of groan-worthy moments). The choice to split the film into two separate stories is a bit awkward, but eventually comes together during the final act. If you liked Mamma Mia!, the sequel offers more of the same, but both storylines are flawed and disjointed enough that the films struggles to find and keep its rhythm making it a hard film to recommend to any but the most die-hard fans.

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