Movie review: Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again - the title says it all

Part 2 gives more of the same: passably good musical production numbers, all strung on a set of highly improbable circumstances.
Part 2 gives more of the same: passably good musical production numbers, all strung on a set of highly improbable circumstances.PHOTO: UIP

SINGAPORE - The story: Some years after the first movie, Mamma Mia (2008), Donna (Meryl Streep) has died and daughter Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) has taken over her hotel. Sophie's grand re-opening plans are ruined when she hears that two of her possible fathers, Bill (Stellan Skarsgard) and Harry (Colin Firth) are not coming. The arrival of Donna's best friends Rosie (Julie Walters) and Tanya (Christine Baranski) bring some cheer.

The most astonishing thing about the first movie (2008) is that it somehow got made.

The jukebox musical based on songs by ABBA was led by a group of middle-aged stars who cannot sing or dance, made to do so anyway, to service a paper-thin plot about a woman's unprotected trysts with three different men.

That setup would make a typical Hollywood executive's veins pop - even before he demanded the scrubbing of the who's-my-daddy plot turn, the firing of any cast member over 35 and the inclusion of a pop star, any star, from this decade.

Yet, the first Mamma Mia! was a success - in part thanks to its distinctively distinctively British tone and the strength of ABBA's music- and so, here we go again.

Part 2 gives more of the same: passably good musical production numbers, all strung on a set of highly improbable circumstances.

In fact, except for flashbacks that explain how young Donna (Lily James) came to meet the three men who might be Sophie's father and the addition of Cher as Donna's mother, everything here, including the cast, has been carried over from the first movie.

 

Under the hand of new director Ol Parker (writer of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel 2011 and its sequel, 2015) the story tries to explain, weakly, how Donna came to be pregnant with Sophie.

It is a justification of her behaviour that nobody asked for, does not work and worse, feels a little awkward.

Still, bringing in Cher - instead of a Zendaya, Zac Efron or Anna Kendrick - is par for the course for this frothy, slightly slapdash production unafraid of putting all its eccentricities on display.

And as with the first, this movie is saved by the gloriousness of ABBA's pop classics.

Dancing Queen, Waterloo, I Have A Dream - these songs will make any turkey fly.

Opens: Thursday (Aug 9)

Duration: 114 minutes

Rating: 3.5 out of 5