Laughter, fun and tears are the name of the game in this surprisingly touching sequel to the original.
Exactly ten years ago, Mamma Mia! first hit the big screen, now audiences are whisked back for more fun and laughter in this hilarious and spirited sequel that is divided into two different parts. The first concentrates on Donna’s adventures after she graduates from university and first meets Bill, Sam and Harry, while the other part flashes to the present to reveal how the characters have developed since we last saw them.
Directed by OI Parker, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again while being as fun and feel-good as the first film (not an easy thing to achieve in a sequel), is also tinged with sadness that is beautifully captured with renditions of ‘My Love, My Life’ that brings tears to the eyes and ‘I Have Been Waiting for You’ that genuinely tugs at the emotions as well.
The song selection is key for making the film work, particularly given the narrative and it is clear that each choice has been selected carefully. There are times when it does rely a little much on songs used in the first film (‘Mamma Mia’ and ‘Dancing Queen’ are just two) but somehow they feel vibrant and fresh thanks to the new sequences that are set to get audiences up and dancing on their feet. Before going into the film, it is a concern just how well the songs were going to merge with the story (particularly given the way in which the songs fitted so naturally in the first film) but despite ‘I Kissed the Teacher’ which doesn’t quite fit in, everything song wise flows well with the story.
OI Parker also wonderfully merges the past with the present with ease that doesn’t feel jarring, particularly when the parallels between them both seem natural and unforced – but most importantly he has managed to keep the spirit of the original film alive and well. Perhaps some of the sequences involving Donna’s past could have been developed further to allow for character development – but this is a minor flaw when you are being entertained as much as this.
This of course is down in part to bringing back some wonderful characters: Christine Baranski as Tanya is laugh-out-loud hilarious as always, teaming up well once more with Julie Walter’s warm and likeable Rosie. Amanda Seyfried showcases just how mature Sophie has become as she takes control of the re-opening of the hotel and is immensely enjoyable to watch. But the new additions to the cast also make a strong impression – Lily James as Young Donna is vibrant, optimistic and lively highlighting the idea that perhaps there is a little bit of Donna in all of us. Her vocals are strong and filled with emotion as heard in ‘Andante, Andante’ for example. Cher is also a surprisingly great addition too – a dry sense of humour mixed with a dash of diva attitude that is a delight, Alexa Davies as young Rosie is a natural comic while Jessica Keenan Wynn as young Tanya is suitably spirited.
If you are in need of a feel-good Summer film with fabulous songs, then you will want and need to go and see Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again – it is as bright and bubbly as the original and a delight to watch.
By Emma Clarendon
Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again is out now on DVD.