Review - Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, Unfortunately…
Runtime: 114mins | Director: Ol Parker | Rating: 1.5 Stars
It’s rare that a film comes out that I have zero desire to see. Usually, even if it’s a film that isn’t my cup of tea, I’m willing to go and see it in the hope that it will exceed my expectations.
Mamma Mia! Here We Go again was not one of these films. In fact, it’s the closest I’ve ever come to refusing to see a film point blank. Somehow though, I managed to endure seeing it (after a lot of coercion).
So, was it worth the suffering I hear you ask? No. No, it was not. It was every bit as terrible as I expected it to be.
Now, before I begin slating this movie, I feel it’s important to stress that I can at least understand why people may like this film even if I hated it myself.
Both Mamma Mia and Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again are films that, if you’re of a certain demographic or disposition, will unfailingly fill you with joy. They’re a spectacle, they pump you full of rainbows and optimism and they’re exceedingly camp, which some people love.
To add to this, whilst I despise seeing my childhood James Bond flamboyantly prancing around a Greek island sounding as if he is singing in a back alley karaoke bar, I do find some amusement and respect in the fact he, Colin Firth and Stellan Skarsgard all agreed to partake - and, more to the point, with such gusto.
Credit where credit is due.
And, whilst it’s not the lead role I would have desired for her, it was also nice to see Lily James getting a leading role in a big film - she deserves it. Having gone strength to strength in films such as Baby Driver, The Darkest Hour and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society I’m glad to see her career progressing even further – she is fantastic.
However, these factors are not enough to save this disasterpiece.
Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again picks up five years on from the original film and Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) is planning the grand opening of the ‘Hotel Bella Donna’ in memory of her mother. As she does this, nearly thirty years earlier, Donna (Lily James / Meryl Streep) goes on a summer trip which changes her life forever, introducing her to three men who each win her heart on the beautiful Greek island of Kalokairi.
So… where to begin…
Firstly, the film felt totally unnecessary. Whilst it was vaguely interesting to see Donna’s backstory, it wasn’t anything we didn’t know beforehand. Essentially, that is exactly what the first film discussed, just in fewer scenes. As a result, the little interest I had in the film quickly waned – especially, given its somewhat indulgent (just short of) two hour runtime.
More to the point, because Mamma Mia was written as a one-off show (and then adapted into a film) all the best ABBA songs were used already meaning Here We Go Again was left with the ABBA back catalogue that no-one really cares about other than a few niche super-fans, or, repeated songs that we have already heard in the first film.
Secondly, the film was far too long and couldn’t make its mind up as to what it wanted to be. The original Mamma Mia at least knew what it was - sycophantically cheesy and camp - and it was unapologetic about it.
Here We Go Again, however, is both half-heartedly happy and sad.
Some scenes, like the garish, indulgent and skin-crawlingly cheesy rendition of ‘Waterloo’ were reminiscent of the first film’s optimism. A large chunk of the rest of the film was miserable and brooding though – something I don’t consider to be very Mamma Mia-esque.
Whether it’s Sophie fretting about the opening of the hotel (essentially, all she does the entire film), Sam lamenting his dead wife or young Donna complaining about her man struggles despite having three handsome men pining after her, the overwhelming optimism found in the first is certainly diluted.
Finally, Cher’s cameo has to be mentioned.
Whilst I’m sure there are people out there who loved this, again, it wasn’t for me. Not only did she look like an older and deranged lost relative of Lady Gaga, but her appearance was completely pointless – it added nothing to the movie. And, more to the point, after the obvious escalation to her token number, it was utterly underwhelming. Sorry, Cher.
Unfortunately, Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again is a totally unnecessary sequel that I would not recommend seeing unless you’re a die-hard ABBA fan or enjoy overbearing cheesiness. Whilst, admittedly, I’m not a fan of the first, I do think Here We Go Again has genuine flaws which cannot be overlooked – mainly, the ropey catalogue of lesser-known ABBA songs and mundane plot.
But, as always, go and see it for yourself – you may enjoy it!
To watch the trailer – click here!