Ol Parker’s Mamma MiaI: Here We Go Again opens with a view of Kalokairi, the Grecian island that housed the three-way paternity musical mystery that is Phyllida Lloyd’s Mamma MiaI (2008). It's a place that is so picturesque, it could be used for a postcard.
As it turns out, that opening view is actually on a postcard which Sophie will send out as invitations to the opening of the hotel her mother Donna (Meryl Streep) dreamed of building since she set her eyes on the property decades ago.
Parker’s follow-up to Lloyd’s film also aims for the postcard-perfect version of everything it depicts. It isn’t deep at all. It is as shallow as a puddle but thankfully, it also as cute as a poodle.
It is all about prettiness and positivity.
Its portrayal of Greek life is limited to its smiles and celebrations, its rustic buildings jutting out of rocky islands dotting its baby blue seas, and not its more pressing concerns. The heartaches it shows about are momentary and are always quickly replaced by vigorous levity and humor.
The continuation of the sexual revolution of the '70s, which its flirty and giddy virtues perfectly fit in, is one that is all about the liberties to live a life of falling in love quickly and its jolly consequences. It is all songs and giggles, and it is quite lovely.
It has all the kitsch and corniness that would make a film repulsive. However, the effect here is the opposite.
Here We Go Again has real exuberance in the film that is infectious.
It is nearly impossible not to get sucked into its strange mosaic of unapologetic Abba musicality, elders having their second wind at romance and a young Donna (Lily James) traveling stuck-up Britain to an obscure island in Greece.
There is a brashness in Parker’s methodology that makes everything work. The film isn’t so much a case of being bad, it is good. It is more of odd elements being baked together to result in a dish so outrageous, it’s actually delicious. (WATCH: Cher takes on Abba in ‘Mamma Mia' sequel)
Crowd-pleasing but thinly plotted
Here We Go Again is a million times better than its predecessor.
Lloyd’s film is beleaguered by its need to be an exact replica of the crowd-pleasing but thinly plotted stage musical it was adapted from. Lloyd’s film, while joyous and watchable, is an empty chore.
By restricting itself on the island where Sophie wonders who among the 3 men her mother had a fling with decades ago is her real father, the film becomes limited in its emotional scope, turning itself into a work that relies on the conceit of a unique familial situation and the resulting comedy of errors.
Parker cures all that. He shapes Donna’s narrative, carving a woozy heart out of the original film’s main punch line.
James is a joy, and the 3 men, Jeremy Irvine, Josh Dylan and Hugh Skinner, she spends lonely nights with are perfectly cast as the younger versions of Pierce Brosnan, Stellan Skarsgard and Colin Firth.
Here We Go Again, with its crisscrossing between past and present and determination to highlight not just the changes but also how the characters resist the passage of time to, has a strange and lasting affect.
It is almost like an ode to the past and an optimistic anthem for the future.
A lot of fun
Here We Go Again is a lot of fun.
While it doesn’t need to exist simply because the original film doesn’t have a narrative that begs for a continuation, it is a welcome addition to whatever obscure lore the Abba musical offers. It adds humanity, however trivial, to the jokes and tunes. – Rappler.com
Francis Joseph Cruz litigates for a living and writes about cinema for fun. The first Filipino movie he saw in the theaters was Carlo J. Caparas' Tirad Pass.
Since then, he's been on a mission to find better memories with Philippine cinema