Over the weekend I watched Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again. I have to say that my overall reaction to the much-anticipated musical sequel is … meh.
Spoilers lie ahead so if you’re planning on seeing the movie blind, then look away now, because they drop a pretty big bombshell in the first act that kind of sets the tone for the whole film.
OK, that’s a warning in the title and in the text, so I officially take no responsibility for ruining the movie for anyone from this point forward.
So here we go, the big weird shocker right at the very beginning of the movie … They killed off Meryl Streep. Maybe I should have been expecting that, it was probably known that she wasn’t set to play a big part in the Mamma Mia! sequel, but the way it was handled was just weird. This huge revelation is delivered among other lines of clunky exposition as if it’s no big deal. We don’t even find out how she died. This seems like an oversight. Did she get sick? Did she fall off a cliff? Did she take one look at the script for this movie and decide she had better things to do?
The latter is the most likely, and the movie feels very much like a rush job that was thrown together in response to the loss of Meryl. From the unexplained death to the musical numbers to the plot, everything about Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again just seems to be thrown together haphazardly.
The original Mamma Mia was silly and fun in a way that was well executed. But the sequel seems to struggle with the basics of blending music and plot. At one point, the film just kind of awkwardly halts for a Cher performance that in no way fits in with the pacing of the film. In general, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again is littered with moments when the two aspects of the film simply don’t blend.
As for the music itself, it seemed like everyone was struggling. No amount of movie magic could hide that this cast is not made up of singing sensations. Lily James gives her all, but it’s hard not to hear the strain and make comparisons to Amanda Seyfried, who comfortably holds her own in both movies. This is to speak of the better performances, there are some disasters. For instance, Hugh Skinner who plays Young Harry should never be allowed to sing — ever.
As for the story itself, there was real potential there. The story of Donna’s three thrilling summer romances on a beautiful Greek island could have been the perfect fantasy. But somehow watching the events of each fling is kind of boring, and none of them feel consequential.
Overall, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again is a rush job that doesn’t quite deliver on the music or the story, and is painfully low on Meryl Streep. I would say either see something else, or watch the first one again.