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Review: Mamma Mia! Here we go Again

Carolina Blake, Reporter

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Set in both the late 70’s and present time, the second Mamma Mia! movie brought back nostalgic memories for all generations. Director Ol Parker perfects the symbols of love, friendship, wanderlust, adventure and heartbreak, all in one feel-good musical.

The film starts in 1979 and begins with a young Donna Sheridan (Lily James) and her two best friends Tanya (Jessica Keenan Wynn) and Rosie (Alexa Davies) graduating college from Oxford University. Donna decides to embark on a journey around Europe to find her destiny. The scenes that take place during this time period show the romantic and confusing events leading up to her pregnancy with Sophie.

The film flashes to present day finding Sophie reopening the hotel with the help of her three dads, Bill (Stellan Skarsgård), Harry (Colin Firth) and Sam (Pierce Brosnan).

What made the movie so great wasn’t the cast, although all of them were amazing in their own ways. It was the ABBA-inspired soundtrack, featuring the hit songs “When I Kissed the Teacher”, “Andante, Andante”, “Angel Eyes” and a brand new version of “Mamma Mia” performed by young Donna and the Dynamos. Every single song on the soundtrack fits perfectly with the events going on, just as it should.

Unfortunately, the plot is too confusing. It doesn’t add up. The film goes back and forth throughout the entire movie, from 1979 to 2018. In the first movie, circa 2008, Sophie Sheridan is 20; In the second she is 25. That’s a five-year difference, even though the sequel is said to take place ten years later. If she was born in 1979/1980, wouldn’t she be 28 by 2008? One possibility is that the first movie was actually set in 2000 and the second in 2005/2006. It still would make zero sense considering their frequent use of 2018 gadgets and slang. Another missing plot point is in the first movie when it is continuously implied that Donna’s mother is dead. But in the sequel, she appears to be very alive and well. In the first movie, Harry explains that he gives the guitar to Donna but in the second, he leaves with the guitar still on his back.   

The timeline is tangled, but the amazing cast makes up for it. There is no better woman to play young Donna other than Lily James. You may know her from Cinderella (2015) or Baby Driver (2017). Even though James is a brilliant actress, she was concerned about living up to the previous performance and reputation of Meryl Streep! In an interview with Vulture, James was asked if she was intimidated by having to play a young Streep.

“Yeah. Obviously, it was very daunting.” James said. “Part of me thought, Oh God, I don’t know if I can do this. But then I watched Mamma Mia! and reminded myself I’m playing young Donna Sheridan, not a young Meryl Streep.”

She did a stellar job. James captures Donna Sheridan in such a way to make Streep proud.

The addition of Cher’s character towards the end is nothing less than outstanding. She appears as Donna’s mother and comes to Greece deciding to “commit to being a grandmother”. The dramatic scene where she shouts her ex-lovers name from the rooftops is probably the absolute highlight of the film.

Overall, the Mamma Mia prequel/sequel hybrid is both confusing and yet amazing at the same time. Despite the not-so-perfect plot, the cast sets an amusing and musical tone to the entire movie. The comedy is hilarious and the soundtrack is both brilliant and exceptional. Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again is the summer movie of 2018 that you absolutely cannot miss!

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Review: Mamma Mia! Here we go Again