In this sequel to Mamma Mia! Sophie is preparing for the reopening of Hotel Bella Donna after her mother Donna has passed away. The film goes back and forth in time showing Sophie, Sky, Sam, Harry, Bill, Rosie, and Tanya in present time and flashbacks of young Donna, Sam, Harry, Bill, Rosie, and Tanya from around the time Donna met Sophie’s three possible dads.
As is often the case with sequels, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again doesn’t live up to Mamma Mia!.
I watched the first half of this film with a frown on my face, experiencing quite a lot of secondhand embarrassment and being overall disappointed.
Thankfully, my frown was turned upside down when the film picked up the pace in the second half and was filled with amusing performances by Julie Walters, Christine Baranski, Colin Firth, and Stellan Skarsgård, topped off with an appearance by Cher.
You’ll notice I haven’t mentioned Piece Brosnan above and here’s why.
He is so annoyingly charismatic that he’s a good choice to put in any film. No matter what he does, he always remains watchable.
However – and I mean this in the sweetest way possible – his singing is horrible. His rendition of S.O.S. is cringeworthy and he looks terribly out of place singing and dancing with the others in the Dancing Queen scene.
The difference between Colin Firth and Brosnan in that scene is remarkable. Where Firth looks purposefully and amusingly awkward, Brosnan looks genuinely uncomfortable. He is out of his depth here, being forever burdened with the image of a cool casanova that makes it almost impossible for him to make goofy look believable. Yet Firth has always been capable of playing all levels, from serious characters (King’s Speech, A Single Man) to charming heartthrobs (Bridget Jones, Pride and Prejudice) to awkwardly cute men (Love Actually).
I’ll forgive Brosnan because, well, you know, he’s Pierce Brosnan, but both men playing the other dads definitely give better performances.
Meryl Streep only pops up at the very end of the film to perform a song as a “ghost” and to be part of the Super Trouper performance during the end credits. It is both ridiculous and unnecessary. It feels like the creators desperately tried to find a way to attach Streep to the sequel in order to draw more people to the film. I wouldn’t be surprised if her fans felt the need to sing “I’ve been cheated by you” too after seeing it.
The most amusing parts are Cher’s segue into Fernando, Julie Walters and Christine Baranski’s rendition of Angel Eyes, the extremely over the top Dancing Queen scene, and Harry falling into the water while tied to a chair.
It ends up being a pleasant watch, even after the slightly disappointing start, but it’s not a film I’ll be rewatching or getting on DVD anytime soon and I’d always – always – pick Mamma Mia! over this one.
3 out of 5 stars.