Cinematic Releases: Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again (2018) Reviewed

Ten years later, the musical comedy Mamma Mia! gets a sequel that definitely transcends some standard flaws of a part two as it also seems to get lost in the quagmire of a nearly heartless story. While fans of the original will latch onto seeing some of the cast again, they'll also find that this is really one of those continuations we didn't necessarily need. The reunion is fun at first. We hug and kiss our old friends hello. Then that nostalgia factor seems to wear out its welcome in the middle of the second act with a massive number ending the third that takes us back home again. 

It's nearly unbelievable that the first film was released a decade ago as most of the stars still maintain the grace, humor, and relative flair for creating likable characters that we can all find some common ground with. Yet, Here We Go Again pulls such a tragic bait and switch with its marketing campaign that many will potentially be crying foul at. The songs still resonate. The cast continues to bumble through melodies they have a hard time holding. And some of the vocals are still rather bland. But, this is an escapist musical that relies on our connection to the past. In that aspect, it works. In many others, it flounders. Badly. Then ABBA music happens and everything is bubbly and wonderful. 

here we go again
Your hair smells as delicious as your soul.
We plan on eating you for dinner later this evening. 

Where this second chapter struggles the most is in its lackadaisical plotting and nearly vacant emotional connections this time around. Giving its audience a double tiered tale that spends much of its time in the past, there are some endearing moments that look at young love and  how quick life can pass us by. The cast that plays younger versions of the characters from the original definitely do a phenomenal job of replicating mannerisms and expressions, even if the less mature version of Pierce Brosnan's Sam is about six inches too short. I will say this. Jessica Kennan Wynn is a literal spitting image of a young Christine Baranski. Honestly, she was the best part of the movie. And of course the extended cameos add a succinct level of humor that's needed in a project like this. 

But again, the writing is messy, convoluted, and altogether misses the real spark that Mamma Mia! had back in 2008. Even when it's at its best, Here We Go Again feels like the sequel that could have been. The script is simply void of the dynamic we all loved about the first. Perhaps, it's just too familiar. Honestly, it's hard to place but something is definitely amiss. Or it could just be that the second is never as good as the first. 

Time to kick start the auto tune again. Cher just showed up to this party!

On the positive side of things,  Amanda Seyfried shines. Her Sophie still translates the same emotions and struggles that she had in the first, even as her motivations have matured. Yet, the bit of story that belongs to her character is far too sparse and never fills us in on what's truly transpired over the last few years. After such a long break, it would have been really nice to see more of her story arc instead of so many flashbacks. 

The original is a self contained piece of cinematic fluff that deserved its successes. Ol Parker's directorial work comes close but doesn't ever get to that same level. If you're a mega fan of Mamma Mia! or ABBA, see this but know that you'll be mildly disappointed. I was.