MaxSpace

Movie Review: Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again

Now that's what I call a summer movie!

By Max Weiss | July 19, 2018, 6:10 pm

-Universal
MaxSpace

Movie Review: Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again

Now that's what I call a summer movie!

By Max Weiss | July 19, 2018, 6:10 pm

-Universal

Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again is hardly a great film—heck, it’s barely a good one—but I spent nearly its entire running time with a big dumb grin on my face. It delivers on its trailer’s promise: It’s a breezy, sun-kissed, romantic romp filled with good vibes, gorgeous scenery, and ABBA songs. What’s not to like? To some people, a summer film means car chases and super heroes. To me, it’s a film like this: the cinematic equivalent of a juicy beach read.

It’s been 10 years since the original and Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) is now fulfilling the dream of her mother (Meryl Streep)— to turn their Greek island villa into a hotel. As we approach opening day, Sophie reflects on her mother’s life and, in particular, her three suitors who have now become Sophie's unlikely trio of fathers (if you recall, Sophie decided not to take a paternity test, instead choosing to have an unconventional family with three dads). So the film toggles back and forth between carefree young Donna (Lily James), arriving in Europe—first France, then Greece—and Sophie’s present day preparations for the hotel as she waits for two of her dads and her mom’s best friends to arrive. (Pierce Brosnan’s Sam already lives at the villa.)

One of the great pleasures of the film is watching the young actors offer their takes on their older counterparts. James makes for a confident, sparkling Donna—she’s not doing a Streep impression, per se, but she exudes a similar irresistible charisma. Other standouts are Jessica Keenan Wynn doing a crack Tanya (Christine Baranski) and Hugh Skinner, bumblingly brainy and geekily charming as a young Harry (Colin Firth). War Horse’s Jeremy Irvine is almost handsome enough to be a young Sam—hey, it’s a compliment!—and, as the younger version of Bill (Stellan Skarsgård), tow-headed Josh Dylan looks like the missing Skarsgård brother.

Without a doubt, you’ve got to suspend your disbelief to appreciate the film. For example, as someone pointed out on Twitter: Donna’s two besties have sported the exact same haircuts since the late 70s, a bit of stunt styling to make the young actresses more closely resemble their older selves. (Donna’s other best friend, Rosie, is played by Julie Walters as a pixie-haired adult and Alexa Davies as a pixie-haired young woman; both Tanyas have severe bobs.) The timelines are completely messed up, too: If Sophie was conceived in 1979, that would make her nearly a 40something now, while Seyfried is actually 32. You also have to believe that Cher—yes, that Cher—is old enough to play Donna’s diva mother, Ruby, even though in real life Streep is 69 and Cher is 72.

But hey it’s a giddy musical, not a statistics class—just go with it and you’ll be fine. Andy Garcia is also on hand flexing his new persona—the foxiest silver fox who ever foxed (he’s playing the manager of Sophie’s hotel). His name is Fernando, which will be meaningful to the ABBA fans in the house.

On top of its message of acceptance and its sneaky feminism (no one judges Donna for bedding three guys in a row), my favorite thing about the film is how defiantly silly it is. All the actors, from the old pros to the cool new kids, just allow themselves to be goofy as hell. Some can’t really sing or dance, but that’s the point—this is an all-inclusive party.





Meet The Author

Max Weiss is the editor-in-chief of Baltimore and a film and pop culture critic.



You May Also Like


MaxSpace

Movie Review: The Brink

Uncomfortably up close with far-right kingmaker Steve Bannon

Arts District

Lineup for Preakness Stakes 2019 Announced

Diplo, Kygo, and Logic will headline this year’s InFieldFest on May 18.

MaxSpace

The Only Oscars Recap You Need to Read!

The good (Gaga!), the meh (oh, Glenn), and the ugly (Green Book) of last night's show.


Arts District

The Big Baltimore Playlist: February 2019

The top five local songs you should download right now.

Arts District

Deyane Moses’ Blackives Revises MICA’s Racist History

New exhibit and online database inspires institutional change at the art school.

Arts & Culture

Wonder Women

Celebrate trailblazers and groundbreaking accomplishments during Women’s History Month.

Connect With Us

Most Read


Weird Wine Event to Showcase Maryland’s Most Peculiar Blends: Makers gather to highlight wines made with everything from coffee to fish peppers.

Where to Celebrate the Return of Game of Thrones: The best watch parties, food specials, and events honoring the HBO show.

Catonsville’s Jeremiah Lloyd Harmon Talks American Idol Fame: Towson University student has impressed the show’s judges with his wide vocal range.

Open & Shut: Sophomore Coffee; The Urban Oyster; Raw Bar; Smoke: The latest restaurant openings, closings, and recent news.

Maryland Legislature Passes Brewery Modernization Act: Plus, new laws will loosen distillery regulations and distribution relationships.