By Laurie Coker

Rating: A

Here we go again – Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, has the same sing-a-long, toe-tapping feel as its predecessor. Packed with the same all-star cast and many talented, fresh stars, Mamma Mia! 2 will appeal fans. Filled will laugh out moments, even with the B-side ABBA tunes, Here We Go Again, tells the back story of Donna’s college graduate to Greek Island adventures and entertains start to finish. As far as sequels go, ten years after the first smash hit, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again is everything viewers want it to be!

Set a few years after the first, Sophie (Amanda Siegfried) works diligently to reopen Donna’s seaside hotel on the breathtaking, remote Greek Island of Kalokairi. She’s planning for a GRAND reopening, when a storm, predicted by the hotel manager, destroys her elaborate plans just days before the event, causing all millionaire guests and press to cancel. Meanwhile, we are privy to entertaining flashbacks following Donna’s early life and the story behind the confusion behind the identity of Sophia’s biological father in the first film. Beauty, Lilly James, plays the young Donna and she belts out ABBA like a maven. Jessica Keenan Wynn (young Tanya) and Alexa Davis (young Rosie) are a blast as Donna’s best friends and Wynn, in particular, manages to look and act a great deal like Christine Baranski’s older version of Tanya, and it is not just the hair and makeup. Davies, too, is a doll and she and her older self, played by Julie Walters, garner some of the film’s best chuckles. Overall, the casts’ chemistry is magical.
Hearing the familiar songs, learning the background story with an excellent set of young characters and actors, and watching it all come satisfyingly together is a like seeing a Broadway show and I should know I saw Mamma Mia! on Broadway – the musical on which the original film was based. Pierce Brosnan (Sam), Stellan Skarsgård (Bill) and Colin Firth (Harry) play their characters to the hilt and sing – yes, Brosnan sings again – into our hearts one more time. The addition of Andy Garcia (Fernando) and Cher (Ruby Sheridan, Sophia’s absentee grandmother) and her incredible set of pipes make the story even more enchanting. Although Cher and Meryl Streep (Donna) have fewer than fifteen minutes of screen time between them, they are fifteen minutes of sheer enjoyment.
Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again is merely good fun. It is not deep, nor is it life-changing, but it is upbeat, engaging and utterly charming. It will have a wide and varied audience as evidenced by the attendees at the screening and if we are lucky, there might even be a third (Yes, I said it.). While the younger and new stars take front stage, the familiar faces of the beloved original cast -regardless of slight screen time – delight. I am placing an A in my grade book. It was just my friends, and I needed as a reprieve from the heat.

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