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July 22, 2018

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More Mamma Mia fun and frolics!

MAMMA Mia! Here We Go Again” is a wholly ridiculous movie — but I thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s the kind of movie that feels and sounds like a summer vacation should: fizzy, lively, low-stakes and soundtracked by ABBA.

This is a world where things generally just work out, where folks are kind and willing to help, where everyone has perfect beach hair, where characters just “know” they’re pregnant after one bout of morning sickness, and where old flings and family members are not only welcome to suddenly sail back into lives they’ve abandoned but greeted with joy and a song.

The dialogue may be ridiculous, the plot may be questionable, and the musical numbers may be staged and stitched together like a manic fever dream (including a uniquely crazy rendition of “Waterloo” with Lily James and Hugh Skinner prancing around a French restaurant). But “Mamma Mia 2” wears its happy heart so earnestly on its fringed suede sleeve that it almost doesn’t matter. Like an all-inclusive resort, it might be a little cheesy and there is surely some cooler and more authentic options out there, but easy can be its own kind of fun.

And this all-inclusive resort has Cher, Andy Garcia and Colin Firth playing Leonardo DiCaprio to Stellan Skarsgard’s Kate Winslet at the bow of a boat packed to the gills with a mass of people singing “Dancing Queen.” And a final show-stopper that’s so fun, you might be disappointed there isn’t an encore.

But the real reason this bonkers movie works so well is the incandescent Lily James. She plays a younger Donna (who 40 years later is played by Meryl Streep), during a very eventful summer in 1979 where she both finds her calling and meets (and sleeps with) the three men who all could very possibly be the father of her daughter, Sophie (Amanda Seyfried). The flashback portions are told in tandem with what’s happening in the present day, where Sophie is preparing for the grand opening of the hotel Donna.

English screenwriter and director Ol Parker took over directorial duties and slowed the pace considerably from Phyllida Lloyd’s impossibly energetic “Mamma Mia!” In “Here We Go Again,” there is downtime and breathing room. This is a movie that very much requires you to be in the “right mood.” And perhaps the most surprising thing about this whole sequined bell-bottomed experience is you might even find yourself getting a little emotional. But not too much, this is vacation after all.


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