‘Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again’ is everything you want it to be

Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again | In Cinemas from 19th July | ★ ★ ★ ★ 

There be spoilers ahead….

The screen version of ABBA’s Mamma Mia musical a decade ago was a huge success, it’s brought new audiences to the stage production which continues to play to packed theatres around the world, and it’s one of those DVD’s that you just slip on – even if you’ve watched it fifty times before.

ABBA was such a huge musical success that when they released their mega-selling ABBA Gold greatest hits album – it was soon followed up with More ABBA Gold – they just had so many great tunes.  So it take long to suggest a second musical could be made using all the other songs that ABBA recorded.

Anticipation of the sequel – that’s also a prequel – has been huge. We all know Cher appears as Meryl Streep’s never before mentioned mother, and sing Fernando. But there’s been huge speculation about whether or not Streep herself was in the film. The trailer only had footage of her from the original film.

The casting list confirmed that Streep was indeed appearing in the movie, but fans have speculated what level of involvement she has. When she appeared at the world premiere the other day, speculation intensified.

Let’s get it out of the way – in this film, set five years after the original musical, Streep’s character Donna has passed away. We find her daughter Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) and husband Sam (Pierce Brosnan) processing their loss.

Sophie is about to open the hotel Donna always dreamed of, the renovations are finished and the opening night party is ready to launch. The celebration brings Donna’s close friends Tanya (Christine Baranski) and Rosie (Julie Walters) back to the Greek islands.

Our story flips back to when their journey first began. With the three girls leaving high school at the end of 1979 and heading out into the world. Lily James brilliantly plays the younger Donna. We kick off with an energetic rendition of When I Kissed The Teacher as Donna, Rosie and Tanya runs rings around the headmistress played by Celia Imrie.

Soon the young Donna announces that she’s heading off to find herself overseas. We follow her to Paris where she meets Harry for the first time. Hugh Skinner, who appeared in the TV series Fleabag is perfectly cast as the younger version of Colin Firth’s character.

Later she heads to Greece and meets Bill, portrayed by the very beautiful Josh Dylan and the even more beautiful Jeremy Irvine who plays the younger version of Sam.

The casting of the younger versions of the characters is flawless. Lily James totally owns the character of Donna, and Jessica Keenan Wynn is brilliant as the younger version of Tanya, while Alexa Davies nails the younger version of Rosie. There’s also a couple of cheeky cameos from ABBA composers Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus

This musical is everything you expect it will be – it’s funny, filled with great ABBA songs to sing-a-long to, and allows us to revisit the characters from the first film without treading too far from the original material.

Then Cher turns up – which is not a bad thing per se, but from the moment the iconic superstar arrives in the films third act, it moves into another realm. Suspension of disbelief can be thrown out the window, but it doesn’t really matter- we’re just here for the ABBA songs.

It’s as much fun as the original, it’ll make you laugh and cry, it’ll make you want to rush home and give your favourite ABBA tunes another spin on your record player.

Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again is in cinemas from Thursday 19th July.

Graeme Watson