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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again is the sequel to 2008's hugely popular romantic musical Mamma Mia!, featuring more earworm-worthy ABBA songs. This time, Sophie (Amanda Seyfried), who's mourning the unexpected death of her mother, Donna (Meryl Streep), reopens a Greek hotel in her mom's honor. The movie also flashes back to a young Donna (Lily James) meeting the three men who become Sophie's potential fathers. Like the original, the sequel is frothy fun, with some innuendo and sexual activity (fans already know Donna had three sexual encounters in the same month). But it's mostly limited to kissing, dancing, and flirting. Characters drink in pubs, restaurants, and at parties, sometimes acting drunk. Language is infrequent but includes "son of a bitch," "crap," and "Jesus Christ" (as an exclamation). The movie values strong friendships, open communication, and following your dreams; themes also include empathy and gratitude.
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What's the story?
MAMMA MIA! HERE WE GO AGAIN is set about five years after the events of Mamma Mia!, with Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) planning the grand reopening of a bed-and-breakfast in Greece after the death of her mother, Donna (Meryl Streep). But the opening is threatened by a thunderstorm as well as Sophie's stress related to her husband, Sky (Dominic Cooper), who's considering a lucrative job offer in New York. The movie is both a sequel and a prequel: Half takes place in the present with Sophie, and half is set back in 1979, when a young Donna (Lily James) graduates from college, parties with her best friends, Rosie (Alexa Davies) and Tanya (Jessica Keenan), and decides to travel the world. As 20-something Sophie tries to capture her mother's spirit in the hotel, 20-something Donna hooks up with Harry (Hugh Skinner), Bill (Josh Dylan), and Sam (Jeremy Irvine) all in the same month -- explaining why the older versions of themselves (Colin Firth, Stellan Skarsgard, and Pierce Brosnan, respectively) could all potentially be Sophie's birth father.
Is it any good?
It's wholly unnecessary, but this sequel/prequel is frothy fun for those who enjoyed the original's music and upbeat energy. Streep is definitely missed, but she does return for a surprisingly poignant cameo. The flashback story starring James et al. is entertaining enough, and it's a treat to see Christine Baranski and Julie Walters' odd-couple comedy antics carried through in the earlier timeline with Davies and Keenan. The three lads all believably portray younger iterations of Firth, Skarsgard, and Brosnan, with Davies' Sam, in particular, making it clear which of the men Donna truly considered a potential partner. It should also be noted that the younger actors have considerably better voices than the older dads, although, once again, it's the women who do the heavy lifting.
The movie's ABBA-filled soundtrack includes some repeat titles from the original, like "Mamma Mia," "Knowing Me, Knowing You," "Dancing Queen," and "The Name of the Game"; most of the additional songs are lesser-known B side tunes like "Angel Eyes," "Andante, Andante," and "When I Kissed the Teacher." But there's a fun "Waterloo" number that takes place in a Napoleon-themed French restaurant, as well as a perfectly timed rendition of "Fernando" featuring Cher, who cameos as Sophie's celebrity grandmother. It's not an exaggeration to say you wait most of the movie for Cher to show up, but she's worth it.
Talk to your kids about ...
Do you think the movie's sexual allusions and insinuations are funny? Inappropriate? Why or why not?
What messages does the movie send about relationships and marriage?
Why do you think musicals based on hit songs are popular? Do you need to be familiar with the band or artist's songs to enjoy the movie musical? Do musicals translate well to the big screen? What makes them successful (or not)?
- In theaters: July 20, 2018
- On DVD or streaming: October 23, 2018
- Cast: Lily James, Meryl Streep, Amanda Seyfried
- Director: Ol Parker
- Studio: Universal Pictures
- Genre: Musical
- Topics: Friendship, Music and Sing-Along
- Character Strengths: Empathy, Gratitude
- Run time: 114 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: some suggestive material
- Last updated: September 20, 2019
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