Come for the plot, stay for the musical numbers; “Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again!” suits the stage more so than the silver screen. It masquerades as a sequel while essentially being more of a prequel (which probably explains why they didn’t just put a “2” somewhere in the title). While at times charming, this particular romantic comedy, isn’t quite so much the “best feel-good family movie of the year” as the marketing materials would lead you to believe. But rather, it’s more like the passionate but forgettable fling, which was nice while it lasted.
Sophie (played by Amanda Seyfried), the daughter of the sadly gone Donna Sheridan (played by Meryl Streep) is organising a grand opening for a hotel on the Kalokairi, where she grew up, in honour of Donna the “Dancing Queen”. Two out of her three potential fathers, who you would remember from the previous movie, are not able to make it. Thereafter, we are shown young Donna (played by Lily James) graduating from college (in Oxford, no less), in a typical Donna fashion. Chronicles of her journey towards the Island of Kalokairi are then showcased, encountering dashing guy after dashing guy (well, mostly just the three potential fathers, really). The film then jumps between past and present, thus deserving the “pre-sequel” moniker.
While most might be lured in by the plot, no thanks to the trailer, the real star, or should I say, stars of the show are, fittingly, the musical numbers. Though the fresher numbers come with more forgettable lyrics, they mix it up with some brilliant choreography, as well as the classics, of course. Theatre-type backdrops (which are obviously fake screens) add to the entire musical feels.
Lily James, playing young Donna Sheridan, is far and away the best actress in the line-up, despite there being more well-known actors and actresses. James will be a familiar face to most, especially those who have watched Downton Abbey, where she acted as Lady Rose MacClare. James’ apt portrayal of young Donna’s emotions and thoughts throughout her fleeting romances with the three potential fathers of Sophie is commendable. Though nothing to write home about either, it shows how James is a rising star deserving of a certain degree of attention.
A forgettable plot and lyrics, saved by entertaining numbers, smooth editing (forgive the jargon, somewhat, but there were many good match cuts, “tracking” transitions which make you think you’re still seeing the past, but what is shown next is a dead giveaway that it is now the present) and admirable performances by the whole cast means that “Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again!” is worth a total of three and a half stars out of five.
I couldn’t say I hummed the soundtrack when I walked out of the theatre, like I did for the original Mamma Mia, but the sufficiently warm plot and brilliant, though forgettable musical numbers make “Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again!” worth your attention (and wallet), though barely.
Overall Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️ ✨