HOLLYWOOD—Look, it is no easy task to craft a musical that sings to the audience. I think the most grappling issue with musicals is the believability factor; who actually bursts out into song after something happy, tragic or unexpected transpires. It just doesn’t happen, and that is something that the cinematic universe has made possible since the 1940s and that still lives today.
The latest musical to hit theaters is the sequel “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again,” which is actually a prequel sort of and not really a sequel. How so? The audience gets a bit of the slice of life of Donna Sheridan’s (Meryl Streep) life, before Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) came into her life. Some of you might be asking who portrays Donna during her early years, its Lily James and I must say James delivered a fun, frenetic performance. She was an absolute revelation in the musical in my opinion and one of the reasons I found myself interested in the movie.
She brings a level of vitality and energy to a musical that lacks a narrative that is lackluster. I do believe this is a flick where being a fan of music from ABBA is important. If you haven’t heard much music for ABBA you might find yourself having plenty of difficulty connecting the music with the characters and the story. At the core, we see Sophie planning to honor her mother, who died a year earlier, with a festive event for the grand opening of her hotel. However, all is not going planned as she expected.
She is dealing with frictions in her relationship with Sky (Dominic Cooper), her dads Sam (Pierce Bronsnan) and Harry (Colin Firth) might not be able to make the opening, and to place icing on the cake, Sophie is preggers. Yes, there is a ton going on in Sophie’s present life, but I found myself more enthralled in the backstory of Donna’s life.
We see how she met Bill and Harry and how those relationships took a turn for better or worse. To be honest, the film would have been more focused if it abandoned the entire ‘present’ and just focused on the past. The time continuity would have flowed so much better and the pacing would not have been halted by boring segments. Yes, “Mamma Mia” has a ton of A-list stars, but when they don’t have much to do and showcase their talents in the way that you expect it’s a slight disappointment. I mean so many people have the perception that Meryl Streep is a vital element in the movie, but you will be gravely disappointed because she is not.
Her appearance is small in nature, but she delivers one hell of an impact. We know why she is considered the greatest living actress of our time; she can do no harm in a role. There is also an appearance by music icon and Oscar-winner Cher as Donna’s estranged grandmother. It’s fun, but when you hear the name Cher you expect a little more, so her appearance while solid is slightly underwhelming for me.
While I can’t say “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again” is a must-see, for those who loved the first flick you will love this follow-up. For those who enjoy the music of ABBA you will love it, for those who don’t’ know much about ABBA and didn’t see the first flick you might feel the musical falls flat. There are fun moments, but there isn’t that breakout song and dance like the first flick that leaves your talking for days, weeks, months or years to come.