My opinion on Mamma Mia 2 has proven an unpopular one among my associates, yet I am passionately in belief that this sequel is beyond banal. Yes, I recognise that the film was to be received as “fun”, and not as an artistic piece of craftsmanship. However, I didn’t see the fun in this film at all, rather a cringeworthy two hours of melodrama where audiences are supposed to empathise with a bunch of middle class socialites, who don’t seem to have experienced a great deal of legitimate trouble in their life. The kind of trouble we are supposed to empathise with, seems to not really be trouble, more of a bourgeois inconvenience. This idea was fresh in my mind from the first film, where the premise surrounded the farcical mystery of who was the father of Amanda Seyfried’s Sophie, out of three sickly middle-class ponces; to which she eventually has the privilege of not caring who the father is, so takes all three.
The sequel focusses on the launch party of a new glamourous hotel, to no doubt further gentrify the whitewashed island and drive out the seemingly minimal presence of locals, which are stereotyped only as café workers in the film. Even Mamma Mia wouldn’t be able to drag this out for the whole film, so they litter in flashbacks from Donna’s past, Meryl Streep’s character who is now dead for unexplained reasons. These segments prove to be the most entertaining parts of the film and are more reminiscent of the tone of the first film.
Otherwise, the hotel launch party storyline fails to pack in much fun and if you believed the hook, that it would be rained off by the dramatic storm that they obviously failed to read about on their iPhone weather app, it obviously turns out fine in the end and they party on. Oh, and Cher, with a face like an undercooked chicken fillet, turns up in the middle of the party and she is not only uninvited by Sophie, but also by the audience. She absolutely murders ‘Fernando’, one of Abba’s most gentle songs.
I am a big Abba fan, and I actually think they did justice to some of the soundtrack. The film opened with ‘When I Kissed The Teacher’, sung by the well-casted Lily James. They improved on the original, with up to date adapted lyrics and the hilarious scenario within the film. And I genuinely laughed out loud at Celia Imrie’s cameo within the song. My personal favourite Abba song ‘Angel Eyes’ also sounded brilliant, performed with true comedic talent by Christine Baranski and Julie Walters. Film newcomer Josh Dylan is also worth a mention for carrying ‘Why Did It Have To Be Me’, one of the lesser-known songs, and he was fantastically charismatic throughout the film, along with Hugh Skinner playing a young Colin Firth.
However, Amanda Seyfried and Dominic Cooper’s version of ‘One of Us’ was the single-worst three minutes of music I have ever experienced, that wouldn’t even be acceptable in a karaoke night of the dirtiest pub in Britain. And the finale of ‘My Love My Life’, where Meryl Streep finally appears, is so wet that it could drown the whole Greek island. Sadly, the film omits Meryl Streep’s beautiful version of ‘The Day Before You Came’ which closes the digital soundtrack.
Mamma Mia is a musical institution, and one that should have remained untarnished. Mamma Mia 2 is a sequel that didn’t need to happen, and it ruined all the best elements of the first film. There was applause and tears within the cinema I saw it, I was just happy it was over. Maybe I’m no fun… or maybe I was just sour that they didn’t sing ‘Summer Night City’.