Sunday, July 22, 2018

Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again


Stressing over the grand reopening of Hotel Bella Donna, Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) finds it hard to balance her obsession to make her mother proud along with her role as a wife to husband Sky (Dominic Cooper). It doesn’t help that she is stuck on Kalokairi while he is pursuing a career in New York. Sam (Pierce Brosnan) is with her for support, although she wishes her two other dads Harry (Colin Firth) and Bill (Stellan Skarsgård) could be there, too. As opening night looms closer, Tanya (Christine Baranski) and Rosie (Julie Walters) also arrive to bolster their de facto niece. All the reminiscing on the island paves the way for an origin story of sorts to be told, on how one summer a young and optimistic Donna (Lily James) fell in and out of love with her child’s three possible dads: a younger Sam (Jeremy Irvine), Bill (Josh Dylan), and Harry (Hugh Skinner).

I didn’t see Cinderella but there was this girl in Baby Driver who didn’t even have half of Ansel Elgort’s lines yet stole every single scene she was in with her pretty looks and lovely voice. Her name was Lily James. To each and every doubter out there who thinks this Mamma Mia sequel should not exist, fuck you. I only have to give you one reason, and that reason is Lily James. Heck, I will buy a ticket just to watch her sing the phone book for two hours straight.

Needless to say, this prequel/sequel is the perfect vehicle to showcase her talent. As a younger Donna, she immortalizes the story that we already heard of before and unnecessarily retold, by virtue of ABBA’s lesser-known hits. She is a welcome addition to Seyfried, whose sweet soprano is such a treat to the ears. If only their timelines crossed, it would have been an utter delight to witness them share a duet or two.

As for the boys, it seems only Dylan can carry a tune next to James. No offense meant for they all have the looks but, unfortunately, not the voice. Skinner seems to have gotten the shorter end of the stick. His rendition of Waterloo is fun, no doubt, but young Harry’s subplot is forgettable at best. Irvine gets to stretch some acting muscles at least, but still fades in the background come duet time with young Donna. Brosnan is given a few lines to sing, and once again feels like he’ll pop a vein in the neck at any moment. Don’t worry, James Bond, we will always love you as 007. Skarsgård and Firth do not sing much but get to dance on a boat and they seem to be having loads of fun doing so.

Oh my God, they killed Donna! You bastards! Okay Kyle, you can calm down now. It was pretty obvious from the trailers that this was going to happen anyway so it’s not really that much of a shocker anymore to be honest. Streep still shows up to sing two songs, which isn’t bad for a dead character. However, she does not get to appear until the dust from Cher’s grand entrance settles, making her pivotal scene all the more poignant and suitable as we witness the journey of mother and daughter come full circle. Try not to shed a tear! This prequel/sequel is a tribute to Donna after all, who is perhaps the embodiment of adventure and positivism in a world full of naysayers. It’s all about family and living life, after all.

Cher’s name has been floating around since pre-production and even though some probably thought that this was nothing more than stunt casting, we all know that an entertainer of her caliber will never fail to deliver. She makes Fernando, both the character and the song, her own and also gets to rev up the encore by lending her signature low register to Super Trooper.

The rest of the cast including Streep herself eventually join in for a fun-filled song-and-dance conclusion, which might as well be the Quantum Realm of the MMCU (Mamma Mia Cinematic Universe) where the laws of time and space are deemed negligible. To close the show, you get to see the current and younger versions of the characters singing and dancing with one another. That must have been one hell of an enjoyable set. I would have sold my neighbor’s soul to the devil if that’s the only way I could’ve joined that party. Oh, ABBA. My oh my, how can I resist you?

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