Hello! I’m doing another combination review of both the 2008 original movie and the 2018 sequel Here We Go Again (but mainly for the sequel). I may have started this review three months ago when this hit theaters and picked it up when the sequel hit streaming…details, details. 😊
Mamma Mia was released in 2008, and I was 9 the first time I saw it. I was instantly entranced by the music and the beautiful Greek island setting. But while the show has an amazing soundtrack, cast, and setting, the plot is rather thin. Sophie’s quest to find her father ends with all three of them forming a happy little family and one of them marrying her mother. It’s charming, but the plot ends up being 50% unnecessary. Amanda Seyfried is charming as Sophie and of course Meryl Streep owns the role of Donna, but the rest of the case seem two-dimensional and trite. 6/10 for engaging cast and bop-filled soundtrack, but the plot floats away on an island sea breeze.
Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again is where it’s at! The sequel/prequel shows Donna’s journey to the island and her summer exploits while also showing Sophie trying to reopen the hotel in Donna’s honor, since Donna has mysteriously died. A lesser movie might be crippled by the absence of the prequel’s star, but Lily James (of Cinderella and Downton Abbey fame) fill’s Streep’s shoes well. She is supported by 3 dashing young men as Sam, Bill, and Harry circa 1979. Harry’s cheesy “Waterloo” number is by far my least favorite, but it contrasts nicely with Bill’s easygoing calm and Sam’s brooding passion.
A word on Sam: I cannot for the life of me defend the choices he makes. I understand the situation is lose-lose, but the best option would be to never have gotten in the mess in the first place!!!! He did redeem himself 20 years later, but he put Donna through hell and for that, he gets some red in his ledger.
Harry is an anxious little cinnamon roll who doesn’t understand his own gayness and therefore has no clue how to interact with Donna, going 100 miles above and beyond in the romantic gesture department.
Bill is a sweet easygoing sailor who basically just ferries Donna to the island, disappears, reappears to mend her broken heart for a day, and then is gone again. He’s charming and funny, but he’s not around enough for audiences to get to know him.
I did promise a while back to analyze my favorite songs from this movie. And so I shall:
- Why Did It Have to Be Me-This is the duet between Bill and Donna. This comes on the heels of Donna ghosting Harry and missing her ferry to Greece. While I can’t necessarily condone Donna ghosting Harry, her chemistry with Bill is undeniable and adorable and the whole song is a light groove with a sweet, flirtatious vibe
- I Have a Dream-This is a reprise from the first movie, but Lily James adds a new curiosity and wonder with her take on it. In addition, this movie comes at a transitional moment of my life, moving into the dorms, and this song captures the essence of change and growth so perfectly
- Andante Andante-This song gives me such mixed feelings! As I said, I cannot condone or defend Sam’s choices, but Donna is clearly in love with him, and he with her, and their connection is deep and real and unbreakable. Oh look, here I am, defending a jerk .😂
- Mamma Mia-it’s the title track, it’s a verified bop, the Dynamos are brilliant and Lily James is a golden goddess. 😊
- I’ve Been Waiting For You-The song itself is beautiful and Sophie, Rosie, and Tanya perform it well, but what drives the song home is an intercut montage of Donna giving birth to Sophie. The only other person there is Sofia the sassy bar owner, and the touching, authentic scene blends with the sweet music in a tender moment. ❤️❤️❤️
- My Love, My Life-😭😭😭😭😭😭 there are no words, only tears. See for yourselves. It’s a song about closure, and passing love on to the next generation.
Of course, many side characters such as Sky, Tanya, and Rosie are amazing and endearing, but one character that is underrated is Sofia, the owner of the shack and bar, and a surrogate mother figure for Donna (also Sophie’s namesake). Her roast of Sam is one of the best I’ve seen this year. In her words, “it’s called Karma, and it’s pronounced ‘ha!’l In addition, she’s the only one helping Donna give birth to Sophie during I’ve Been Waiting.
Ok there’s one odd plot thing that annoys me: Donna Sheridan is dead, and yet Meryl Streep shows up near the end, in a few contrived scenarios. The scenes do help the plot, but why include the principle actress for only 20 minutes when no one was expecting her?
Overall this movie gets a 9/10 for humor, “camp” (rom-com atmosphere), heart, and a fantastic soundtrack. One point deducted because either Meryl Streep is there or she isn’t.