After Meryl Streep starred as the callous magazine editor, Miranda Priestly, in the Devil Wears Prada (2006), it was delightful to see the “Devil” become the “Dancing Queen” in Mamma Mia!
And so, you are unsure what to expect when you learn that Donna has passed in the introductory scenes of Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again.
In Mamma Mia! Meryl Streep played Donna, a hotelier and single mum in the Greek islands whose daughter, Sophie (Amanda Seyfried), is to be wedded is reunited with three men; Sam Carmichael – an architect (Pierce Brosnan), Harry Bright – a British Banker (Colin Firth), and Bill Anderson – a Swedish sailor and travel writer (Stellan Skarsgård) – each of whom could possibly be Sophie’s dad. Memories are re-lived, and secrets are revealed using songs from pop group, ABBA including the title track, “Mamma Mia”, but we never find out who Sophie’s dad is.
Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again crisscrosses the present and the past. As Sophie plans the reopening of Donna’s hotel in her memory, we are taken through young Donna’s (Lily James) life after graduating from Oxford University in 1979 and her journey to the Greek islands.
First, we meet the young Harry Bright (Hugh Skinner) whom Donna met in France and had a one-night stand. After leaving Harry in Paris, she’s stranded on her way to Kalokairi and meets young Bill (Josh Dylan) who gives her a ride to the island, but paths cross again after Donna’s left heartbroken by the young Sam Carmicheal (Jeremy Irvine).
James is charming and puts up a convincing act in her portrayal of young carefree Donna. She met Sam on a wet day unknowing that he’d become her one true love. Sam is forced to live after Donna discovers that he’s engaged to be married, and Donna only discovers shortly after that she’s pregnant!
Some of the songs featured in Mamma Mia! namely, “Mamma Mia”, “I Have a Dream”, “Thank You for the Music”, “Super Trouper”, “SOS”, “Waterloo” and “Dancing Queen” are featured again, and complemented by others including “Knowing Me Knowing You” and “When I Kissed the Teacher”.
Christine Baranski and Julie Walters also return as Tanya and Rosie – Donna’s former bandmates in Donna and the Dynamos – and they perform “Angel Eyes” and ‘I’ve Been Waiting For You” alongside Sophie in memory of Donna. Seyfried has come of age and it comes through in her acting but in a celebratory mood when the guests approach the hotel and it’s obvious that the launch won’t be a flop after all, three dads didn’t seem to come to the party. They barely moved to “Dancing Queen”.
While we recognise that Ruby’s character is a diva, casting 72-year old Cher as mother of 69-year old Streep was the biggest flaw of this movie. Cher is one of the greatest pop stars of our time and her performance with Andy Garcia is fabulous, so we forgive this casting goof.
But in the end, because ABBA is evergreen, soon you find yourself singing-along, having some ooh and aah moments and even get mushy.
Directed by: OI Parker
Casts includes; Amanda Seyfried, Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth, Stellan Skarsgård, Lily James, Dominic Coop, Hugh Skinner, Jeremy Irvine, Josh Dylan, Christine Baranski, Julie Walters, Cher, Any Garcia