“… better than the first film, but only marginally.”
Last night I watched Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again and honestly I was surprised at how accurate the subtitle was. This is the sequel to the smash hit Mamma Mia! which is a movie I didn’t care for. The sequel picks up some time after the first movie, and follows the grand re-opening of the hotel in Greece. There is also a set of flashbacks that show you when the hotel first opened. That’s about it.
So I really didn’t like Mamma Mia! We Couldn’t Get Meryl Streep for this One becasue it was more of the same. That’s not exactly true becasue I did find it improved upon a few things from the first movie, but the problem is it made some things worse. For instance, the music. Mamma Mia! The Songs we didn’t use in the First One is comprised almost entirely of ABBA b-sides which makes for a pretty dull affair unless you are a huge fan of the band. These deep cuts do nothing for the casual audience who just want to belt out ‘Dancing Queen’, and they make it obvious that a sequel was not needed. Also I found the use of some of the ABBA ‘hits’ to be pretty manipulative. I noticed throughout the movie that whenever the plot would be getting into a slump, a ‘hit’ would come on to essentially win the audience over again. This was both brilliant and terribly shady.
I think a lot of what made this movie more tolerable than the first was expectations. I expected this movie to be complete shit, so I was less hard on it as I was watching it. Don’t get me wrong, it was still bad, but it was a little better than the first one. One thing that was objectively better was the story. I agree that the story in Mamma Mia! Why Did We Make a Sequel was very surface-level, but towards the end it gains a lot of heart and makes for a touching experience. This is what the first movie was missing in my opinion.
As far as the performances go, my point still stands that none of these songs will hold a candle to the ABBA recordings. That being said I did find the Meryl Streep replacement, Andy Garcia, to be a whole lot more enjoyable as an actor. Amanda Seyfried was still very much the highlight of the film, both in vocal and acting performance, despite her being in a very small amount of it. And I was also a fan of Lily James who played young Meryl Streep. Although I found her vocal performance to be flat at times, her acting was some of the best a Mamma Mia! movie could hope for. I’m also really glad that they got a life-sized Barbie doll to play Cher.
Overall Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again is better than the first film, but only marginally. It fixes a lot of problems from the first but also creates new ones. If I had a gun to my head and was forced to watch either of the Mamma Mia! movies, I’d pull the trigger myself.
I give Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again a D