As someone who thought the first Mamma Mia was an unabashed cheese-fest and it was often hit or miss, I'm happy to report this prequel/sequel is a real improvement on its predecessor.
First off, I know some of you are probably asking: "Who are you and what have you done with Justin Hall?" Well, don't worry. He's right here. Nice to see you.
This movie gives us a glimpse into the past as we get to see how Meryl Streep's Donna (Lily James in flashback) journeyed around the world and went from being Valedictorian to having adventures and falling in love with the three men we know that can't sing. At first, she meets Harry (Hugh Skinner) and they have a whirlwind courtship set to the tunes of ABBA. Soon after she stumbles upon Bill (Josh Dylan) and together they help a fisherman abandoned at sea find his true love all the while falling in love themselves set to the tunes of ABBA.
Lastly, years later she encounters Sam (Jeremy Irvine) and she truly falls in love with him, but her hopes are dashed immediately when she discovers that he already has a fiancee. And yes, again all this is set to the tunes of ABBA. Did I mention the music of ABBA is once again featured in this movie?
In the present, Donna's daughter Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) is busy attempting to reopen her mother's Greek hotel and dealing with the dilemma of having to reunite with her three potential fathers (Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth, Stellan Skarsgard). Thankfully, they don't do too much singing in this movie.
I know I said the original film was hit or miss, but Here We Go Again manages to have better musical numbers, a somewhat more involving story, and it even has a great dosage of heart and soul. Streep only appears sporadically, but the rest of the cast is having fun and feeling a little more confident with the material even though they still come off with the aforementioned cheese.
With the first film, the actors felt and looked awkward belting out the hits of ABBA, but this time they're more convincing and able to embrace the cheesiness and that works as an asset. Plus, there's also the magnetic presence of Cher as Seyfried's grandmother and Streep's mother. Yes, I said it. Streep's mother. Streep is 69 and Cher is 72. I'll let that sink in for a minute.
If you liked the first film or even the musical, you'll enjoy this one equally as much if not more so. If you didn't like the first one, there is no use in convincing you to see this one. If you were dragged by your girlfriend or wife, chances are you obviously didn't have much else to do.
I'm gonna have to turn in my “get-out-of-jail-free-card” and defend the indefensible, but I welcome it. So sue me.
(Rated PG-13 for some suggestive material.)