Mama Mia: Here We Go Again (2018)
Director – Ol Parker
Writer – Ol Parker
Starring – Meryl Streep, Lily James, Amanda Seyfried, Dominic Cooper
Rating – PG-13
Genre – Musical, Drama
Metascore – 62/100
Rotten Tomatoes – 78%
Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again sails more smoothly than its predecessor. With Lily James as young, whimsical Donna, along with her fantastic, youthful lovers; the film finds a decent balance between present time (after Mamma Mia!) and the past. In fact, the past is where the viewer will certainly have more fun — after all, the music fits the period as it ought.
You might not be a dancing queen yourself, but after watching Mamma Mia, you’ll be singing and dancing your way out of the theater. Several catchy tunes remain in the viewer’s ear following the film. And as long as you enjoy the earworms, this is perfectly acceptable. Granted, the vocal performances were as one might expect: nobody was superb but nobody was horrendous. Several times I thought sound mixing and editing could have used significant work. Also, the constant cuts and scarce full body shots during musical numbers caused me to doubt the dancing ability of most of the cast. However, I was impressed by the clever usage of tracks as background music, namely, “Take A Chance On Me.”
With all the musical numbers, the cast needed creative stages. As a result, design choices played a huge role in this film. The sets were either beautiful or massively distracting and of poor quality. For instance, the film fumbled a scene on a balcony early. Other sets looked better —most notably ones in which color choices reinforced the tone of the film. Whoever designed the costumes deserves praise, as each costume choice revealed the characterization of each character, aiding tonal consistency.
Fortunately for this outing, some legitimate conflicts go a long way in creating — and I used this term lightly — tension. The characters in present time are more serious, having grown up. But this makes the past time characters far more fun to watch. The characters of the past propel the story forward with their vibrancy and enthusiasm for life itself. In such a light-hearted film the need for major screen time in the past was a necessary decision. Furthermore, motivations in both timelines are fine, giving characters just enough desire to overcome the minor challenges that arise. As a result, the film can be simple in these ways while handling itself with whimsy.
The performances were good overall. The cast of the three young men, Sam, Harry, and Bill, were chosen perfectly. Each actor captured the essence of their respective older selves. Most impressive was Lily James’ young Donna. She brought even more liveliness and passion to the character. The cast of the present time were underwhelming; however, Christine Baranski, Andy Garcia, and Cher were at least funny.
At the conclusion of the final dance and song, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, closes with an uplifting note of whimsy and good-heartedness. While enjoyable overall, the film struggles to stand out as a cinematic musical heavyweight. Though it might not change your life, it may add a little whimsy.
Author: Matt Welborn