By Valerie Wu
The long-awaited sequel to “Mamma Mia” is finally in theaters, and is proof that a generation later, memories can be just as clear.
Like its predecessor, the second film follows the now-familiar story of single mother Donna, who has passed away before the start of the film, and her daughter Sophie (Amanda Seyfried), who now seeks to take on her mother’s legacy in the renovation of Hotel Bella Donna.
The majority of the story takes place within the flashbacks of a young Donna (played by Lily James), which cut between the present-day happenings of the days leading up to the grand opening of the hotel. We see young Donna’s relationships with each of Sophie’s fathers and their subsequent endings, as well as the beginnings of her life on the Greek island Kalokairi.
The storyline of “Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again” is not necessitated, nor is it particularly inventive. Yet its willingness to not take itself seriously manages to add a charming quality to the production numbers, many of which are as invigorating as they are bizarre.
Though the plot line is at times contrived in an effort to include some of ABBA’s more obscure songs — Cher returns, but only to meet a past love coincidentally named Fernando and proceed to give her own rendition of the song “Fernando” — the film never claims to be anything more than it is: a fluffy, mindless piece of entertainment.
The movie’s merit lies in its nostalgia. The reprises of ABBA’s greatest hits — “Dancing Queen,” “Super Trouper” and of course, its namesake “Mamma Mia” — only contribute to the infectious nature of its predecessor. The sequel’s energy pays homage to the original “Mamma Mia” in a way that stays true to tradition.
In terms of the musical numbers, the staging is more polished and the choreography is sharper than the original. Yet the production quality appears to only be an excuse for the film’s excessive number of songs, many of which are unnecessary for the overarching storyline.
And if anything, “Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again” is a story of a mother and her daughter. While this simplistic idea doesn’t excuse the absence of a logical storyline or an effective plot in this sequel, it does shed some light on the script’s subpar qualities.
But my my, how can we resist it?
Contact Valerie Wu at vwu.19 ‘at’ presentationhs.org.