Title: Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again
Country: UK, USA
Language: English, Greek, French
Genre: Musical, Comedy
Director: Ol Parker
Cinematography: Robert D. Yeoman
Jessica Keenan Wynn
Precisely 10 years after its massively popular antecedent, this ABBA-jukebox musical sequel/prequel returns with a somber premise, our beloved protagonist Donna Sheridan (Streep) has kicked the bucket (does the film even reveal the cause of death?), and passes the baton to her daughter Sophie (Seyfried, thankfully bestowed with an ethereal voice), who is still processing her grief and the sequel-story kick-starts in the same Greek island of Kalokairi, where Sophie has a forthcoming reopening of Hotel Bella Donna to commemorate her mother with the help of the hotel manager Fernando (García).
Meantime, the film’s prequel-narrative is rewound to 1979, recounting a young Donna (James, spirited and ebulliently fleshes out the Streep-less narrative arc with her stentorian singing bent), freshly out of college, how she winds up on the island and gets knocked up but cannot tell whose fortuitous sperm strikes gold, and decides to raise her child all on her own. So apart from the old gang, even Streep has a glorified cameo near the end as a ghost reunited with Sophie during her baby granddaughter’s christening ceremony, the cast is redoubled not just by the initiation of the younger-self cohort, Jessica Keenan Wynn and Alexa Davies evoke uncanny resemblances and share extraordinary exuberance with Christine Baranski and Julie Walters as Donna’s bestie Tanya and Rosie, then and now, respectively, but also by the much-hyped advent of Cher, Streep’s SILKWOOD (1983) co-star, who perversely plays Donna’s mother Ruby in another glorified cameo, and struts her pristine skin condition and minimal movement when belts out FERNANDO, opposite to a seemingly unnerved Garciá.
Never trying to overreach it from its self-knowledge of a escapist potboiler, basks in photogenic landscape, seascape and its hooky oldies, MAMMA MIA! HERE WE GO AGAIN promises pure joy and Euro-pop feel-goodism to its core audience and writer-director Ol Parker attests to be an able hand in coordinating and segueing between two story-lines, together with a faculty for choreographic deployment.
As much as the cast enjoys a helluva shindig and disseminates an infectious jag of joviality to ascertain audience are having a good time either, a takeaway afterthought pops up unexpectedly by positing a morbid if entirely irrelevant presumption, how can we adjust ourselves when one day we will truly lose our national treasure like Meryl Streep and her ilks? Such a dreadful thought, perhaps, seeing things through blue-colored glasses is this reviewer’s kryptonite.
referential entries: Phyllida Lloyd’s MAMMA MIA! (2008, 6.1/10); Ol Parker’s IMMAGINE ME & You (2005, 6.8/10).