Watching Ol Parker’s Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, I found myself grinning so hard and for so long that by the end, the muscles in my face were sore. The film’s half-baked story about a girl trying to live out her slutty, wonderful, deceased mother’s dream of operating a hotel on a Greek island (all set to the music of ABBA) is so thoroughly entertaining and ridiculous that the cast can’t help but crack into dumb grins at what they’re doing. That especially goes for the guys — Pierce Brosnan, Stellan Skarsgard and Colin Firth. Even the title of this sequel, Here We Go Again, suggests a giddy exasperation and disbelief that these A-list actors have gathered in the Mediterranean, essentially to perform ABBA karaoke.
It’s been 10 years since the first installment of the Mamma Mia! franchise — it’s a franchise, right? In the time that’s passed in the story, Donna (Meryl Streep) has died, and her daughter Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) is about to host a grand opening party for the newly remodeled hotel Donna once ran. This gives an excuse for everyone from the last film to return to the island, including the three men who could each be Sophie’s father, and Donna’s comic-relief best buds Tanya (Christine Baranski) and Rosie (Julie Walters). As Sophie faces a series of tribulations — an absent boyfriend, a grieving heart, a dastardly storm — we see the backstory of how a young Donna (Lily James) ended up on this island, pregnant with Sophie, in the first place. James is a delightful addition. She’s jocular, with a soft touch; she exudes a distinct Julia Roberts vibe.
Ol ParkerMeryl Streep, Julie Walters, Christine Baranski, Amanda Seyfried, Dominic Cooper, Andy Garcia, Pierce Brosnan, Stellan Skarsgård, Colin FirthOl ParkerUniversal Pictures