Watching the original Mamma Mia! in 2008, I had something approaching an out-of-body experience. Having initially scoffed at everything from the contrived join-the-pop songs plot to Pierce Brosnan’s unique vocal stylings, I felt my feathery inner self depart from my dour exterior and start dancing in the aisles. One minute I was a miserable critic; the next, everything had gone pink and fluffy. As I said at the time, never before had something so wrong felt so right.
A decade later, this sequel-prequel hybrid (a surprisingly smart combination) produces similarly head-spinning results. In the 1979 sequences, Lily James plays the young Donna, graduating from Oxford (via a High School Musical-style rendition of When I Kissed the Teacher) before heading off on an endless holiday wherein she will try on a pair of dungarees and a trio of handsome suitors. Meanwhile, in the present, Amanda Seyfried’s Sophie is striving to fulfil her mother’s vision (she had a dream!) with the newly renovated Hotel Bella Donna, while wrestling with the prospect of history repeating itself on this idyllic island.
Hi-jinks - Hugh - Skinner - Josh - Dylan
As we flip-flop through the singalong hi-jinks, Hugh Skinner, Josh Dylan and Jeremy Irvine grow up to become Colin Firth, Stellan Skarsgård and Pierce Brosnan, while Jessica Keenan Wynn and Alexa Davies prove dab hands at essaying younger incarnations of dynamic duo Christine Baranski and Julie Walters.
Yet as before, the real pleasure comes from the sublime agony of hearing your favourite Abba tunes crowbarred into the narrative in increasingly preposterous ways. Occasionally the twists are subtle (the whoopingly affirmative “woh woh woh” of Waterloo briefly becomes a commanding “whoa” – as in “stop!” – during a restaurant seduction scene). More often they’re laugh-out-loud ludicrous (the scene in which Cher calls Andy Garcia’s Señor Cienfuegos by his first name evokes Ben Elton’s script for We Will...
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