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Mama Mia, Here We go Again is a sequel to the highly successful Mama Mia musical movie based on ABBA’s music and legacy. ABBA’s Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus are among executive producers and just like in the prequel, Björn Ulvaeus appears briefly himself as one of the professors of the college at the beginning of the film and Benny Andersson in a later scene as a Cafe Pianist. The movie is filmed in Croatia, standing in for Greece.

The sequel starts one year after the death of Donna (Meryl Streep). Her daughter Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) has renovated the hotel and is finally fulfilling her mother’s dream. She now lives with Sam (Pierce Brosnan), one of her fathers and the other two, like many other guests are invited to the opening party, but a storm is coming and they are caught up in more important matters so they may not be able to make it.

The story is taken forward with intermittent flashbacks revealing the journey of the young Donna (Lily James) and how she ends up in the island while sleeping around with 3 young men she meets in different legs of the trip and gets pregnant with Sophie.

The movie is entertaining and includes some ABBA hits missing form the first part and a couple of repetitions which are well placed and ok to listen to again. The atmosphere of the scenes are warm and the colouring has been pitched towards that purpose throughout the entire movie. Flashback scenes are woven nicely into the story and include most of the more engaging and entertaining scenes. Obviously a prequel is not being planned. 

Cher’s brief appearance as the grandmother of Sophie towards the end of the movie and implantation of the song “Fernando” feels too forced and detaching. Cher’s highly rejuvenated face, looking even younger than Meryl Streep, does not help making her a believable grandma and her voice and singing style simply doesn’t do justice to ABBA songs.

Lily James is a welcome addition bringing a fresh energy to the cast and unlike most of the other stars, her singing voice is also pleasant to listen to. In fact the only two actors who can sing and have a nice enough voice to listen to are Lilly James and Amanda Seyfried. On the other end of the spectrum with not-even-good-enough-for-karaoke voices are Pierce Brosnan and Jeremy Irvine playing young Sam.

It would have been much kinder to the audience to use professional singers with close enough voices and have the actors lip-sync the songs. Nobody would have noticed or even cared, and had saved the actors from a lot of useless singing rehearsals, and a bit of embarrassment. The other option of course would have been to select actors with good voices and real singing abilities for a musical, although it may have reduced the star power factor.

Mama Mia, Here We Go Again is mediocre entertainment which engages the audience for most of the running time, but leaves you emotionally and intellectually unattached after leaving the theatre.   Worth the bucks if you are watching it on a streaming or have rented it for the whole family. 

ABBA has been a phenomenal success in the music industry with numerous evergreen hits which last in popularity across generations. A movie portraying their real story from the early days of the band to their Eurovision appearance, world success and disintegration of the band would be a much more interesting one to watch. Perhaps it will be made only after their death. Unfortunately.

 

Alexis Kouros - HT