Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again has proper belly laughs, Abba hits and a terrific performance from Lily James


NOT having a sequel to a film that made £460million at the box office is unthinkable.

Mamma Mia! is not so much a cash cow, but a gold-bullion dairy farm.

Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again
Amanda Seyfried, Lily James, Julie Walters and co star in Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again
AP:Associated Press
Cher
Cher joins the cast of Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again with a starring role and blasts out an Abba hit
AP:Associated Press

To its detractors, it’s a cynical, dystopian hen party hellhole. To its fans it’s a hairbrush-in-front-of-the mirror, Just-Seventeen-problem-page delight — and the follow-up will not change either side’s mind.

Given that the original film’s genius was its relatively ham-fisted shoehorning of Abba hits into a rom-com plot, I was intrigued as to how this would play out.

Were they going to rehash the same faves or ignore all the songs previously used and offer a film of B-sides?

As it turns out there are some “deeper cuts” that won’t be as immediate to the fair-weather Abba fan. But they just wheel the hits out regardless, often as superfluous singalongs (with the exception of a daft duet between Cher and Andy Garcia).

Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again
Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again still struggles to get its head around a plot based on three holiday quickies with Colin Firth, Stellan Skarsgard and Pierce Brosnan
AP:Associated Press

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The story does attempt a reinvention, with the premise of a flashback to 1979. One slight snag — the storyline is exactly the same as the first film.

In the present day, Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) is pregnant and reopening the restaurant of mum Donna (Meryl Streep), who died a year before. Meanwhile, husband Sky (Dominic Cooper) is in New York mulling a job offer.

Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again
Colin Firth wows, but sings less, in this rabble-rousing sequel
AP:Associated Press
Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again
Julie Walters brings plenty of belly laughs in this hilarious sequel
AP:Associated Press
Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again
Amanda Seyfried celebrates happy news with Meryl Streep
AP:Associated Press
Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again
Cher delights fans with a romantic dance in Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again
AP:Associated Press

When a storm threatens to ruin Sophie’s big opening night, only one of her dads is with her — and it’s all looking a bit grim.

But the flashbacks offer some light relief. The origin story of young Donna (Lily James) shows her kick-starting her life on the island with The Dynamos and meeting the three significant others in her life.

We spend the next few hours venturing back and forth through time, punctuating any lulls (of which there are many) with a host of the finest Swedish pop known to man.

It’s decidedly, happily average, punching at exactly its own weight, but no one will care.

Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again
Lily James wows as a young Meryl Streep in Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again
Alamy
Lily James
Lily James is the heart and emotional core of the film — and is terrific, says Jamie East
Alamy
Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again
Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again stars prepare for one of Abba’s greatest hits
Alamy

The whodunnit may well have been replaced with the howtheydidit, but it’s as schmaltzy and as unashamedly naff as it always has been — and all the better for it.

The story is threadbare, the song links are tenuous at best, it occasionally struggles to get its head around a plot that is still based on three random holiday quickies, and some of the appearances are baffling.

But there are some proper belly laughs and the audience were SCREAMING for more.

Lily James is the heart and emotional core of the film — and is terrific. She plays it just the right side of knowing and gives it far less of a “Harry Hill side-glance” than the rest of the cast.

Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again
Meryl Streep stars again in Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again
AP:Associated Press
Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again
There’s plenty of romance to delight fans in Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again
Alamy

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The vast majority of comedy beats come from the pairing of Rosie and Tanya — whether it’s the current Julie Walters and Christine Baranski or flashback newcomers Alexa Davies and Jessica Keenan-Wynn.

It has its perplexing moments where it’s just better off not asking why. But unless Chris Hemsworth and Ryan Gosling walked out to give shoulder rubs, you’d be hard pushed to get a better reaction from the raucous crowd at the premiere.

As long as Cher sings Super Trouper and they can cry and sing at the same time, it’s Here We Go Again?

Somebody stop them!

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Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, 114mins (PG)

★★★☆☆



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