THERE ARE NO SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW IN CASE YOU HAVE NOT SEEN THE MOVIE YET!
So it is a full ten years since the original Mamma Mia! hit the screens and become a cinema phenomenon – it was the UK’s most popular film of 2008 and held the record as the most successful film in the UK until the last few years- even now it is still the UK’s 11th highest grossing film of all time.
A sequel had been talked about for a long time but no one had been able to come up with the right story or script until now. The trick this time was to do a Godfather 2 and have the sequel as a joint prequel as well. The idea came from Richard Curtis’ daughter (Scarlett – listed as ‘Creative Consultant’ on the film’s credits) and it was Richard Curtis (Love Actually & Four Weddings et al) and Director Ole Parker (The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel) who have co-written Mamma Mia Here We Go Again (let’s call it HWGA!) who finally came up with the story and script that delivers.
You might think it rather dangerous to have a brand new writing team to pen the sequel (Catherine Johnson had written and Phyllida Lloyd had directed the original stage play and film) and you might think it would not work – but it works and how!
HWGA suceeds so well as it follows the spirit of the original very closely and still has its creator Judy Cramer on board together with the people who made it all possible in Benny Anderson and Bjorn Ulvaeus – it weaves some great ABBA songs into a story that does not take itself too seriously and keeps the energy and fun at a consistent octane level.
The new movie though starts with Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) setting up ‘Hotel Belladonna’ with Sam, who is of course also one of her fathers (Pierce Brosnan). But there are problems ahead – she is having disagreements with her partner Sky (Dominic Cooper) and there are storms ahead (physical as well as mental) for the grand opening with 2 of her 3 possible fathers (Colin Firth and Stellan Skarsgard) not able to attend.
But it really kicks off when the film switches to Oxford 1979 when the young Donna (played by the ever effervescent t Lily James) graduates by an impromptu version of ‘When I kissed the Teacher’ with younger versions of fellow Dynamos band members Rosie (Alexa Davies) and Tanya (Jessica Keenan Wynn)- from there we follow Sophie as we learn how she meets young Sam (Jeremy Irvine), young Bill (Josh Dylan) and of course young Harry (Hugh Skinner). There are also a few surprises with Grandma (OK Great Grandma!) Cher (she does an amazing ‘Fernando’ with Andy Garcia) and more!
There are some great stand out highlights – my personal favourite is ‘Dancing Queen’ which has always being the emotional heart of the show and film- but this time it is like the end of Dunkirk with numerous small boats approaching Hotel Belladonna to make sure it does have its grand opening after all. Hugh Skinner and Lily James have great fun in a light hearted version of ‘Waterloo’ and the climax of ‘Super Trouper’ with well, everyone is a great way to finish off the movie –but make sure you stay until the very end of the credits for a great little treat!
Like its predecessor, HWGA is also very funny. There is a great in joke with Omad Djalli about pretty much anyone who wants to get a boat to the hotel’s island and the rapport between the present day Rosie (Julie Walters) and Tanya (Christine Baranski) is as good and bitchy as ever.
Lily James confirms the promise she showed as Churchill’s secretary in the recent outstanding Darkest Hour and with Amanda Seyfried largely holds the film together as the central characters-but even they were almost outshined by Alexa Davies (who played Lance’s daughter in the brilliant The Detectorists) as the young Rosie. She is very sassy and is especially good when her attempt to get off with ‘Scandi dream guy’ Young Bill is thwarted- her answer with any failed romance is like with old Rosie cake and more cake….
Go and see HWGA and you will have the time of your life- it is about as much fun as you can have at the moment!