(L to R) Young Tanya (JESSICA KEENAN WYNN), Young Donna (LILY JAMES) and Young Rosie (ALEXA DAVIES) in "Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again." Ten years after "Mamma Mia! The Movie," you are invited to return to the magical Greek island of Kalokairi in an all-new original musical based on the songs of ABBA.

“Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again” Dances Right into Your Heart


By Liz Lopez

Rating: B


When I viewed the feature film “Mamma Mia!” 10 years ago, I was not envisioning a sequel. I didn’t think one was needed, but evidently someone else thought differently. It is not that I disliked the first story; I just thought it was nicely wrapped up and done. There was some criticism about how each actor did not have excellent vocal skills in the first film. It wasn’t so bad as to trash the whole production, but it was pleasant enough, especially for fans of ABBA music who liked to sing along with it. So now, the sequel titled “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again” shows viewers the present and ties in the past neatly to show how it lead to today’s celebrations and reunions as written and directed by Ol Parker (“The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”). Thankfully, this sequel has enough talent and humor in it to definitely be a much better musical film production and one to recommend. Spoiler – yes, Meryl Streep returns in the film, but not for very long. So Streep fans, don’t be disappointed and just let this story take you where it leads. There is plenty to enjoy.     

The script that Parker has crafted starts with Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) living on the Greek island that her mother Donna (Streep) had once inhabited and ran a hotel to present day when Sophie is ready to re-launch the same venue with a party filled with invited special guests and family. Helping her with the hotel is the manager, Fernando Cienfuegos (Andy Garcia), looking quite good with the gray in his hair. Early in the film, Sophie is sadly disappointed when she receives news from her beau, Sky (Dominic Cooper). There is an excellent scene of them singing a duet to the song “One of Us.” The cinematography by Robert Yoeman, editing by Peter Lambert and of course the music by Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus, all set the tone for what is to come for each character. For anyone who did not see the first film, there are several flashback sequences throughout the film that takes the viewer back to 1979 and learns about how Donna journeyed to an island and how she met the three men along the way that Sophie now calls “her three fathers.”

In the flashback to 1979, Donna, is portrayed by Lily James (“Baby Driver”) – who is utterly fantastic in the role with her acting, singing and dancing. You cannot miss the mega-watt smile from the first scene as an Oxford graduate singing and dancing to “When I Kissed the Teacher” on the school’s ceremonial stage and throughout the film. She is joined by dear friends and fellow Donna and the Dynamos members, Tanya (Jessica Keenan Wynn) and Rosie (Alexa Davies), who remain lifelong friends (as adults played by Christine Baranski and Julie Walters, respectively).

It is through the varied scenes that we learn of Donna’s trio of romances with young Harry (Hugh Skinner) – who we see as Colin Firth in these films; young Bill (Josh Dylan) – adult, seen as Stellan Skarsgård; and young Sam (Jeremy Irvine) is the young Pierce Brosnan character who seems to have really taken Donna’s heart. All six have some good scenes, with at least one or two times that can cause a laugh out loud moment.

It has been said to save the best for the last. I will not write the spoilers about Cher, staring as Ruby Sheridan, Sophie’s grandmother. I will just say there are songs, kisses and fireworks. Don’t miss this!

MPAA Rating: PG-13. The run time is 114 minutes. It opens nationwide July 20th and check your local listings for advance Thursday night screenings offered in your city, including the Bob Bullock Museum IMAX Theater in Austin.

Source: Universal Pictures

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