Mamma Mia! 2 Much slicker than the original and I love it! 

Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again FIRST REVIEW: Much slicker than the original and I love it! By JAN MOIR

Mamma Mia! Here We Go again had its premiere in London on a suitably hot and sultry night. My, my, I thought, following the stars down the red carpet – actually bright blue, like the Aegean sea – and into the Eventim Apollo in Hammersmith, West London. How can they possibly get away with it this time?

Nobody loves Mamma Mia more than me, but the original crazy plot, featured in both the smash hit musical launched in 1999 and then the film adaptation in 2008, is really little more than a threadbare quilt on to which a patchwork of Abba songs is stitched at regular intervals.

It doesn’t seem to lend itself to closer examination – or indeed even a sequel, no matter how big the budget, but here we are, thundering along to the unstoppable ABBA beat once more.

First review: Nobody loves Mamma Mia more than me, but the original crazy plot, featured in both the smash hit musical launched in 1999 and then the film adaptation in 2008, is really little more than a threadbare quilt on to which a patchwork of Abba songs is stitched at regular intervals

Hunks: In an early scene, Lily James’ character has a simple, wholesome explanation as to why Donna slept with three men in three days – because the fact that it was the Seventies isn’t quite enough

All the old gang are still here reprising their roles, including Meryl Streep, Colin Firth, Pierce Brosnan and Julie Walters. Cher is on board as an ancient pop star in Marilyn Monroe wig, who is also a great-grandmother (‘We’ll leave that out of the bio,’ she drawls). Sexy ol’ Andy Garcia plays a hotel manager called Fernando, and we all fall in love with him.


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When maneating Tanya (magnificent Christine Baranski) first spots him, her reaction is instant – and rather vulgar.

In both this sequel and the original, the action centres around the fact that Donna (Streep) is a hotelier on a Greek island who didn’t know which one of three men had fathered her daughter Sophie (Amanda Seyfried). The new film, in an explosion of cheesecloth and Seventies kitsch, goes back in time to explore exactly why this happened.

A flare for performance: Lily James (centre) stars as the young Donna, and her effervescent turn as the golden girl who everyone loves is perhaps the best thing about the film


The boys are back in town: All the old gang are still here reprising their roles, including Colin Firth (left) and Pierce Brosnan (right)

Lily James stars as the young Donna, and her effervescent turn as the golden girl who everyone loves is perhaps the best thing about the film.

Best known to audiences as Lady Rose from Downton Abbey, she flings herself into the action like a fidget spinner Tinkerbell, quite magnificent in her denim flamenco flares and boob tubes.

In an early scene, she has a simple, wholesome explanation as to why Donna slept with three men in three days – because the fact that it was the Seventies isn’t quite enough.

Powerful women: Cher and Meryl Streep attended the Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again world premiere at the Eventim Apollo, Hammersmith on Monday night 

The story: In both this sequel and the original, the action centres around the fact that Donna (Streep, right) is a hotelier on a Greek island who didn’t know which one of three men had fathered her daughter Sophie (Amanda Seyfried – pictured)

Blonde ambition: Cher is on board as an ancient pop star in Marilyn Monroe wig, who is also a great-grandmother

‘Life is short but the world is wide,’ she says, adding that she ‘wants to make some memories’. She makes a baby instead, but hey, these things happen.

Lily has a surprisingly good voice and sings on 11 of the 18 Abba numbers in the film – and three of them are solos. If Mamma Mia doesn’t make an absolutely huge star out of her, I will eat my glitterball earrings.

Elsewhere the bigger budget gives the film the firm smack of Hollywood pizzazz and a polish that was lacking in the rather ramshackle first Mamma Mia!

Yes, Pierce Brosnan does sing again – not one, but two songs – and it is a five-handkerchief moment in the firm.

Singalong: The tunes fit in rather better than they did in the original, where sometimes they were jackhammered on to the action

Razzle dazzle: Lily, (right) has a surprisingly good voice and sings on 11 of the 18 Abba numbers in the film – and three of them are solos. If Mamma Mia doesn’t make an absolutely huge star out of her, I will eat my glitterball earrings

Perhaps he has been gargling with treacle in the intervening years or finally picked the thorn out of his paw that was causing him so much pain but he sounds fantastic. Okay, he sounds okay. Well, fine. Okay, he is not terrible.

The tunes fit in rather better than they did in the original, where sometimes they were jackhammered on to the action. For example, when Donna locks herself in the loo in the first film, her pal Rosie (Julie Walters) sings Chiquitita to her through the keyhole, as you do. ‘Now I see you’ve broken a feather, I hope we can patch it up together,’ Julie warbles, sounding rather like a pipit needing a pee-pee herself.

On your bike: Elsewhere the bigger budget gives the film the firm smack of Hollywood pizzazz and a polish that was lacking in the rather ramshackle first Mamma Mia!

In the new film, Lily strolls through an orange grove in a hippy skirt, singing The Name Of The Game after one of her beaux has been less than honest.

Mamma Mia remains implausible, unlikely and utterly glorious. Who can ask for anything more, as they might sing themselves.

Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again opens on Friday. 

Conclusion: Mamma Mia remains implausible, unlikely and utterly glorious. Who can ask for anything more, as they might sing themselves

 

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