Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Ol Parker's MAMMA MIA! HERE WE GO AGAIN proves almost exactly what you'd expect

Who knew that ABBA has given us so many second- and third-rate songs? TrustMovies certainly didn't until viewing (and listening to) MAMA MIA! HERE WE GO AGAIN, which has plenty of these, plus a reprise of a few of the group's greatest hits that were used in the original 2008 film version of this international legitimate-theater-blockbuster-turned-film.

The new addition is really a kind of celebration -- a second-rate one, yes -- but still a celebration of ABBA's enduring music and the supremely silly story engendered around that music in order to contrive a plot line for the now-famous musical.

As directed by Ol Parker (shown at right) in the sort of paint-by-numbers fashion that Jackson Pollack might have used, were he a paint-by-numbers guy, this new movie is so awful from its start -- an embarrassing school commencement scene set in Britain -- that this proves perhaps the right thing, after all, for the film then has nowhere to go but up. And so it does, in very slow, small increments until, by its finale, it has become almost OK. (It helps that, in that finale, we finally get to see Meryl Streep, shown at bottom, as a kind of fantasy/phantasm who delivers the movie's sweetest song.)

Otherwise, we're back again with those same three would-be fathers (Brosnan, Skarsgård and Firth, above), their sort-of daughter and her beau (Seyfried and Cooper, below), all of whom go through the hoops created for their character-less characters originally conceived by Judy Craymer and now fleshed out by Mr. Parker, along with Richard Curtis and Catherine Johnson.

The new twist is the by-now old saw of the "prequel," in which we're made privy to the doings of the younger version of the Streep character (Lily James, below) and how she came to have her dalliances with those three guys, whom we now view in their younger versions, too.

The plot, such as it is, has to do with Seyfriend's character reopening that hotel dedicated to her mom, while the movie flashes back and forth, past to present, without generating a lick of surprise or suspense. Unless you count the last-few-minutes appearance of Cher (below) in the role of Grandma, who gets to sing one of the film's better numbers, Fernando.

But no matter. The movie is supposed to be a celebration -- of ABBA's music and these characters whom some of us clearly love and want more of -- so those of you who want to celebrate will certainly do so. Meanwhile, the rest of us who accompany you to the cinema can enjoy the pretty people, the pretty scenery, and whatever other small favors this movie is able to deliver.

Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, from Universal and running 116 minutes, opened last weekend nationwide. To find the theater(s) nearest you, simply click here.

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