Does it really feel like it has been 10 years since Mamma Mia: The Movie was released? The original cost $52 million and made $615 million based on the 1999 musical. That gross was the highest for a live-action movie-musical until Beauty and the Beast. The musical is the eighth longest-running show in London and was the ninth longest-running show on Broadway. A sequel was inevitable. But, please, please, don’t let Pierce Brosnan sing again. Will it be a good as The Greatest Showman?
Lily James first came to the notice of most Americans as Lady Rose MacClare in Downton Abbey in 2012, and then in Disney’s Cinderella in 2015. Her roles in Baby Driver and Darkest Hour in 2017 gave her still more attention in two highly-rated flicks. It is this role, as young Donna, that will firmly establish her as a star in the US. Her voice is terrific; unexpectedly, she carries this film. It is impossible not to like her. Colorfully filmed, at times wonderfully choreographed, this version can be a tad inconsistent. Unlike most critics, I still prefer the original. That said, the female audience in my showing liked it, a lot. With singing and dancing and love affairs, what’s not to like?
Donna passed away a year ago and her daughter, Sophie, is putting the final touches on the hotel envisaged by her mother. Sophie’s husband and two fathers are unable to attend the grand opening. Donna’s friends, Tanya and Rosie, arrive and thoughts naturally turn to 1979 when young Donna arrived on the island. Donna’s mother, Ruby, has never been in her life, so who will Sophie lean on for support? Who helped Donna in those early days? Spoiler alert: The songs by ABBA will provide great comfort.
Do not expect a Meryl Streep (Donna) repeat performance. She makes a very brief appearance. Amanda Seyfried is still Sophie but her star has been replaced by the aforesaid Lily James. Brosnan as Sam, Colin Firth as Harry, and Stellan Skarsgard as Bill, do reprise their roles, as do Christine Baranski and Julie Walters as Tanya and Rosie. Their younger versions are largely forgettable. Cher is Grandma Ruby, in fine voice, but clearly not looking her 72 years of age, somewhat disconcertingly. Oddly cast is Andy Garcia as the manager of the Hotel Bella Donna.
Here We Go Again has a budget of $75 million and is expected to make $36 million in the US this weekend. With the good reviews and the female demographic, will it be able to find lightning in a bottle again? Rex Reed and Richard Roeper are two of the noted critics not pleased with the sequel, sometimes savagely so. Hence, a link is provided for your amusement. Bottom line–if you liked the original, you will probably like this one. You will hear many of ABBA’s lesser known songs. For me, that was somewhat of a disappointment. I guess I wanted to wallow in the tunes of familiarity. Still, while this movie was not as good as I had hoped, I got my money’s worth.