Review: Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again (2018)


Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again does a good job of improving upon the concept of its predecessor. Rather the movie trying to fit the music, the songs in this sequel service the story.

There are silly moments from time to time, but there’s also a lot of heart and sincerity. Amanda Seyfried’s Sophie is the main character in this film as she prepares for the grand opening of her, now deceased, mother’s hotel. She hires a man named Fernando (Andy Garcia), a suave and endearing gentleman, to manage the property. As challenges begin to surface, her stepdad Sam (Pierce Brosnan) and her mom’s best friends Tanya (Christine Baranski) and Rosie (Julie Walters) are there to provide support. All this puts a strain on Sophie and she reflects on her mother Donna’s first experiences on the island to help her get through it. Lily James plays the younger Donna and she is a recent college grad who’s out to see the world. The songs of Abba are as always front and center, but there are very intimate moments that ground this movie and allow it to breathe.

I was just as entertained by the flashback sequences of Donna and her meeting the younger versions of Sam, Bill, and Harry as I was getting to see the original cast back together again. I even thought the younger versions of Tanya and Rosie were a pleasure. Baranski and Walters might have a little more comedic talent, which is evident in one particular vaudevillian scene, but Jessica Keenan Wynn and Alex Davies do a good job of giving these characters some nice, kinetic energy.
While everything seems to come together nicely in Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, there are a few issues here are there. The first 30 minutes can be a bit too frenetic with song after song coming at you, but it starts to even out and you get into the rhythm of the narrative. I noticed a plot hole here and there, but it’s so close to the end of the film, and of little consequence, that I don’t give it much attention. My biggest gripe is in the inclusion of Cher as Sophie’s grandmother. I’m not spoiling anything because she is prominently displayed in all the advertising for obvious reasons. She doesn’t really act so much as show up and perform a song or two. It’s the only time that I felt taken out of the movie. Cher has an Oscar under her belt, but she hasn’t garnered attention for her acting abilities in a while. Maybe her character just wasn’t developed enough on the page. In either event she doesn’t detract from the overall enjoyment of this spectacle and her voice still rocks.
Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again is a real treat for Abba fans. There are cameos of the band so look out for them. As someone who did not like the original movie, this one worked for me and I even choked up a bit with its emotional ending. The singing is on point. Lily James and Amanda Seyfried have beautiful voices and Pierce Brosnan doesn’t get stuck trying to sing out of his range. Take someone you love on a date night, but be prepared to tap your feet, smile, laugh, and have a good time. Even if you aren’t an Abba fan, I think you can get behind the spirit of their message. Strength is family.