Fri | Jan 15, 2021

Songs, stars bring off ponderous script

Published:Sunday | August 5, 2018 | 12:00 AMDamian Levy/Gleaner Writer
Meryl Streep (right) and Amanda Seyfried.
Amanda Seyfried (left), Dominic Cooper (centre) and Cher in ‘Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again’.

After 10 years, the cast and characters of Mamma Mia are back with the lyrical title Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again. Sophie, played by Amanda Seyfried, has more than settled into her life as the daughter of three fathers, a wife and the child of Donna (Meryl Streep), one of the freest spirits to ever exist. Still, Sophie doesn't have it all quite together and looks to her mom for inspiration. What follows is a sequel that seeks to emulate Godfather Part II, but with song, as we're treated to the stories of Sophie and Donna, both at the same age.

If you like the music of Abba, seeing this film shouldn't be a hard pick. There are no less than 17 musical numbers devoted to the group's music. If a comedy is graded on its jokes, then a musical has to live or die by its grand song-and-dance scenes. To that end, the film is wildly entertaining. It's a fun and light experience, filled with intriguing and inventive camera work. When it came to Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, there was an impressive amount of creativity.

Unfortunately, the script isn't quite so inspiring. At so many moments, the film feels like it's full of material that ought to have been cut. It is even more aggravating, given the films two-hour runtime. It's a joyful experience, but sometimes it's goofiness is nothing short of misery inducing. Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again has a mostly good story; it just needed to be streamlined.

When it comes to the cast, there are stars and there are human puppets. Cher? Star. Seyfried? Star. Pierce Brosnan? Puppet. A puppet who, God bless him, tries his best to hold a note, but ultimately fails. Fortunately, there's an even more glaring performance in Hugh Skinner, playing a young Harry, Colin Firth's character. He feels like someone doing an impression of Colin Firth for a stand-up show.

While these aspects took me out of the film, the abundant joyful energy won me over despite my best efforts. It's a story with a lot of heart. It works at its best when you don't think too much about it - much like the way the characters seek to live their lives. If you're seeing it, go when the crowds are big. Nothing beats watching a musical with a group to sing along with.

Rating: Half Price