Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again Review

Let’s talk about Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again.

I’m not that bothered about ABBA, I can take them or leave them. But no matter what you think of them, you can’t ignore their impact on pop music. They are one of the most popular bands of all time with a catalogue of catchy tunes. So it’s no surprise that a musical was made of them and it’s no less a surprise that it was such a success that there was a movie made of it which was an even bigger success. But for some reason they decided to make a sequel and truly it is here we go again.

I would normally tell you the plot here but there is no point as it barely has one. It does tell you about how a young Donna met the three potential fathers Sophie, which just reminds you how bizarre it was that Sophie suddenly didn’t care about who her real father was in the original. And how much that pissed me off because THE MOVIE SPENT TWO HOURS ON THIS BEFORE GIVING US THE WORST COP-OUT ENDING EVER. Ahem. But there’s also the story of Sophie finally opening the hotel Donna had the first movie, which is confusing because I swear it was open but just failing in the original.

But the movie doesn’t care about the plot so why should you? It never spends any time developing them, often forgetting about plot threads for almost an hour. For instance, one of the sub plots is that there’s some tension in the relationship between Sophie and Sky. This is brought up at the start, forgotten for the majority of the movie then brought up in the middle of a big musical number, only to be forgotten once again. It’s just a waste of everyone’s time because it feels like they are put in to give characters something to do, rather than because it’s a well constructed plot.

It even flops in the one emotional thing it wants to do. In the present, Donna has passed away since the first movie and Sophie is re-opening the hotel in her honour. So the movie wants the lack of Meryl Streep to hang over the movie and so later on, we get the big emotional release that has been planned. But when half of the movie is spending time with Donna, albeit a younger version played by Lily James, you never really miss her. So when that big emotional release comes later, you don’t feel anything. It’s just an absolute failure of story construction.

But if I’m honest, people are not going to this movie to see a well constructed plot, though it would have helped me enjoy it more. They want to see ABBA songs. Well it fails on two fronts. One, they went through all the well known ABBA songs in the first movie, so here you get the album tracks. Ok, you get some repeats of the classics because I think you might get a riot if they didn’t do Dancing Queen, but most of the songs are ABBA songs only the most ardent of fan will know. Which is rather rubbish.

But then there’s the singing. Some of it is fine, Lily James and Amanda Seyfried are good singers so they can pull off the songs they are given. But some of them, oh my. Hugh Skinner as Young Harry is especially awful and while I know there’s an argument that this is a deliberate thing, any movie which deliberately chooses to have a someone sing a song badly for three minutes deserves to have the film it’s on be burned in the deepest pits of hell. And despite all the headlines about the original centring on how Pierce Brosnan could not sing, they let him sing again! Seriously! That’s just being numbskull on the deepest level.

The worst thing of all, the deepest flaw which wrecks the movie, is that there’s no build up to anything. Every song just happens like you suddenly pressed play on an iPod. I think they are going for something like The Blues Brothers, which does something similar. But that’s an exception to the rule, heck, Blues Brothers makes a habit of breaking all of the rules, so it’s not a good example to follow in a standard jukebox musical. So you get musical whiplash. But worst is all the last-minute plot additions. When Cher shows up at the end as Sophie’s grandmother, it’s meant to be a big moment as she’s someone who never shows up. That’s only mentioned twice though, at the very beginning of both young Donna and Sophie’s story. Then Sophie wants to be in Donna’s band right at the end, something meant to be a huge moment if the soft tempo song that follows is to be believed. But that is the first time it is ever mentioned. It’s a weird variant of a deus ex machina I suppose.

Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again ranks as a terrible musical. Heck, I wouldn’t even class it as a musical, it’s just some well-known celebrities doing karaoke with a thin plot to justify it. You might have been able to get away with it ten years ago when there were barely any musicals in the cinema and you had all the ABBA classics to back you up, but a year removed from La La Land collecting awards on mass and A Star Is Born likely to do the same in the coming months, this is a pathetic attempt at a movie that should be ignored like the solo careers of ABBA.

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A Guy Who Talks About Movies

Former Head of Movies for Screen Critics. Film Reviews now hosted on Medium.