Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again is set five years after the events of the last film. Sophie Sheridan (Amanda Seyfried) has renovated her mother’s hotel and is preparing for it’s grand re-opening. She’s upset that only one of her three fathers will be present for the event which is seen more as a homage to her late mother than anything else. Also, the love of her life, Sky (Dominic Cooper) has grown to New York to studying hoteling and wants to move away there to pursue a career full time. This gives rise to the melancholic duet version of One of us, shot in a two frame mode, with both stars singing their lines in tandem. The film has just started and the mood is hugely sombre. Thankfully, the film is juxtaposed with flashback portions of a young Donna (Lily James) and her friends Tanya (Jessica Keenan Wynn) and Rosie Mulligan (Alexa Davies), which infuse the fun back into the film. We get to see how Donna arrives at this remote Greek island and falls in love with the place, wishing to spend her life there. She has a whirlwind romance with three young men in succession, First, she meets Harry (the Colin Firth character), played by Hugh Skinner. They belt out the duet on Waterloo, in a bar and then promptly sleep together — she can’t say no because it’s the first time for him. Then she meets up with Bill (the Stellan Skarsgård character), played by Josh Dylan, who is a sailor happy to ferry her to the island. They break into a song, Why did it have to be me, atop a boat. At the island, she meets Sam ( the Pierce Brosnan character), played by Jeremy Irvine. The duo bond over rescuing a horse in a storm sing the song Knowing me, knowing you and well, sleep together… this rapid succession of lovers actually leads to the ambiguity about who is the father when she gets pregnant and which led to the genesis of the first film. The good thing is that the query isn’t resolved in this sequel too.
Each of the young actors playing Donna’s lovers are pure eye candy and can sing tolerably well too. Lily James, playing a young Meryl Streep, has huge boots to fill and gives it her all. She belts out all her numbers with enough energy and verve to infuse new life into them. She and her young co-stars, three boys and the girls playing the younger versions of Christine Baranski’s and Julie Walters’ characters are better singers than their elder avatars from the franchise, who made the first film feel like a Karaoke night. Thanks to the young voices reprising the gems from ABBA’s repertoire, the present film feels like a true-blue musical.
Meryl Streep is shown to have passed away, though she does appear in the spirit form in the song My love, my life, picturised as a song devoted to a mother’s feeling for her child. In her absence, Cher makes a star entry as Donna’s mother and her energy and star charisma even at her age is seen to be believed. She’ll always be a superstar no matter what and her spirited duet, Fernando, sung with Andy Garcia’s character, is one of the delights of the film.
The film ends with another ABBA gold, Super Trouper, which reunites every single character in both their young and old forms. So you have Meryl Streep, Cher, Amanda Seyfried, Lily James and the rest of the cast performing together in a roaring finale. A more fitting tribute to the Swedish rock band and Mamma Mia! the stage musical based on their songs, on which the films are based, couldn’t have been conceived…