2018 has proved stressful for many. Internationally, politics has been more overtly odd than usual. Nationally, we may never fully understand the parameters of Br*xit and, locally, the University has struggled to comfort any member of staff, VC or otherwise. So when we were reminded of the second instalment of Mamma Mia arriving, everyone around me breathed a musical sigh of release. It was going to be okay.
And by God did the film deliver. The first film, as you’ll recall, is set on a beautiful Greek island inhabited by gorgeous Greeks and non-Greeks alike. Various love stories occur with ABBA’s best hits providing the soundtrack and in turn, sometimes, the story’s structure (see: When I Kissed The Teacher). What could possibly top this fun-for-all-the-family classic?
Cher. Cher could top this. Not only do we get to see an excellent portrayal of Donna Sheridan from Lily James with her contemporary beaus (Hugh Skinner, Jeremy Irvine and Josh Dylan), we also get to see world-renowned, Emmy and Oscar-winning icon Cher don a white coiffed wig and put on her best distanced-but-successful grandmother act. In reality, she must’ve only said about 20 words, but for the Goddess of Pop? It was enough. Her presence was felt and her rendition of Fernando was revered.
As for the original cast, only one big change to announce: contemporary Donna is less present in this film but you’ll understand why when you watch it. Apart from that, according to my mother, who announced this in the cinema about 10 minutes in, “Oh, [Dominic Cooper] hasn’t aged well.” You can have the verdict on that one.
Even though it has been 10 years since the last film (I know, I was shocked, too), the rest of the cast are still brilliant: Amanda Seyfried’s Sophie is as in tune as ever, while Donna’s friends, played by Christine Baranski and Julie Walters, give us once again the reckless and hilarious trio we all deserve. The fathers, each wonderful in their own right, give us the silly and loving dads whose affection we were enveloped by the first time, bringing that goofiness many of us see in our fathers on a day-to-day basis.
However, this is one of my few criticisms of the film: did Colin Firth’s character not deserve a love interest? Had the older Harry Headbanger not gone through enough in his spontaneous life to earn a place at Cupid’s table? At the end of the first film, there was a hint he’d been interested in the young man trying to pursue Tanya during Does Your Mother Know. In spite of this, he seemed happy enough in the second film, especially with the news unveiled at the end…
Naturally, other criticisms include some lesser known songs and the fact that some characters didn’t seem to know each other in the first film until the second film informs us they’d met in Kalokairi. While sticklers might find that too frustrating to continue watching, as someone who blithely goes through a series missing all the hints and being genuinely surprised when the obvious culprit is actually revealed as the perpetrator, I promise you it’s an easy and fun watch anyway.
So there it is: this film couldn’t have come at a better time. Even if you’re not a huge fan of ABBA, or you didn’t like Lily James in Cinderella, go and watch to at least understand what everyone else is talking about. Love Island is over (the enthusiasm surrounding the 2018 cast will have died a death by Christmas) and something tells me this film will be doing the rounds for a while.