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|Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again|
dir-scr Ol Parker
prd Judy Craymer, Gary Goetzman
with Amanda Seyfried, Lily James, Pierce Brosnan, Christine Baranski, Colin Firth, Julie Walters, Stellan Skarsgard, Dominic Cooper, Cher, Andy Garcia, Jeremy Irvine, Jessica Keenan Wynn, Hugh Skinner, Alexa Davies, Josh Dylan, Meryl Streep
release UK/US 20.Jul.18
18/UK Universal 1h54
Grandmamma mia! Seyfried, Cooper and Cher
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E|
It's been a decade since Mamma Mia stormed cinemas, and while this is a better written and constructed film, it's unlikely to become as indelible for one simple reason: it's packed with leftover Abba songs that few will remember. This sequel does feature some marvellously rousing moments, but overall it lacks that joyful sing-along exuberance that made the first one so easy to watch over and over again.
Over the last few years, Sophie (Seyfried) has been upgrading the ramshackle hotel her mother Donna (Streep) opened on the Greek island of Kalokairi, and it's time for the grand opening bash. Her stepdad Sam (Brosnan) is helping her while her husband Sky (Cooper) has been studying business in New York. Arriving for the festivities are Mom's friends Tanya and Rosie (Baranski and Waters), although there's a question whether Sophie's other dads Harry and Bill (Firth and Skarsgard) will make it. And even though she wasn't invited, Grandma (Cher) makes a grand entrance.
The plot is basically a series of parallels, as the original story echoes in Sophie's current situation (she finds herself pregnant) while cutaways show a young Donna (James) hanging out with her friends (Wynn and Davies) and boyfriends (Irvine, Skinner and Dylan). Writer-director Parker cleverly shifts between these two strands while stirring in witty dialog and frequent musical numbers. Although less than half of the songs are iconic hits; most are obscure album tracks.
Parker skilfully gives each actor enough screen time to define their character, although there's not much more than that. Seyfried and James engagingly hold everything together, while others provide comedy, emotion, romance and spark as needed. Some threads are picked up (Rosie and Bill) while others are oddly missing (Harry's sexuality). The film only properly takes flight when one of Abba's floor-fillers stops the show. And the most soaring sequences are when Cher or Meryl are in the spotlight.
Frankly, the best numbers here are reprises of the biggest hits in the first film (Dancing Queen is particularly fabulous), plus Cher's Fernando. Oddly, the filmmakers miss the chance to set a big sequence to Knowing Me, Knowing You, and it's a real problem that half of the songs feel like filler, performed as overproduced pop songs rather than musical numbers. Still, Parker's direction is looser and livelier, which makes the most of the nutty choreography and colourful settings. So it's still a lot of fun. And the Super Trouper finale leaves us wanting more.
|R E A D E R R E V I E W S|
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© 2018 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall
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