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MAMMA MIA! HERE WE GO AGAIN Discussion (with spoilers)
This is one of the greatest sequels I've ever seen. 

I'm not kidding. This movie is a two hour delight from start to finish. It calls to mind the Joe Bob Briggs quote about sequels where the audience wants the same thing as the first, but different. 

I was not a big fan of the first MAMMA MIA - I think it drags, and is too tied up in the plot mechanics - but there's a winning energy to that one, and the energy is multiplied ten fold here. 

It helps that the musical numbers are, across the board, better. The first one is still in that period where movies are kind of afraid to be MUSICALS, but luckilly, whether the success of LA LA LAND or whatever, we don't have that problem here. The numbers here are full-throated NUMBERS and it's utterly rare to see something so committed. 

The "mystery" from the trailers (that Meryl's character has died off screen in the five years since the first Mamma Mia*) is dispensed with relatively quickly, and while it serves as a key plot point throughout, the sadness doesn't dampen the proceedings any more than is absolutely necessary. And when Meryl does show up, it's in a lovely moment that is both sweet and kind of silly, just like this whole movie.

The movie is also helped by recognizing the fact that none of the men in the original could sing, and so they're relegated to what is, essentially, backing vocals while the men who play their younger selves are all cast because they CAN sing. 

Which brings us to Lilly James. I've liked her a lot as an actor in stuff like DARKEST HOUR and CINDERELLA, even if she left me a little cold in BABY DRIVER. But it takes a lot of gumption to step into Meryl's shoes, and I'll be goddamned if she doesn't knock it out of the park. 

James' performance in this should be enough to recommend it, as it's maybe the best star-making performance since Michael B. Jordan in CREED. She is just that good, and it helps she can sing her ass off and has legs for days. 

Cher is...Cher. She's in the movie for the last 20 minutes or so, shows up, does her thing, sings "Fernando" to Andy Garcia**, and the movie is over shortly after that. But still, she can bring down the house. 

There's a lot more to like about this movie, but special note must be made of Alexa Davies and Jessica Keenan Wynn, who play the younger versions of Julie Walters and Christine Baranski, respectively. Both do a great job of evoking their older selves without doing a direct impression - but the way Wynn is able to tap into what makes Baranski a delightful screen presence is awards-worthy.

I really liked INCREDIBLES and ANT-MAN 2, but this was the most fun I'd had at the movies in a long, long time - maybe since BLACK PANTHER. It's definitely my pick for sequel of the summer. Yes, even over INFINITY WAR.

It helped that I saw it in IMAX and it looked gorgeous. Stay for the credits - there's even a post-credits sequence that is wonderful!

*These movies continue to have one of the weirder timelines in cinema - the first one, despite coming out in 2008, is meant to be set in 1999, but this one is set five years after the original, with flashback sequences set in 1979. So we're now up to 2004 in the MMCU. 

**One thing I really appreciated about both this and ANT-MAN 2 was that it's refreshing to see older actors be allowed to be romantic and sexy and in love - the fact that these movies both featured passionate kisses between leads in their 60s was notable and appreciated.
home taping is killing music
ooooh I remember having that thought during the big quantum realm kiss in antmen!
I’ll end up seeing this via wife and daughters.

So it’s nice to know it’s a banger.
"I'd rather have hope...than nothing at all."
-Illyana Rasputin, X-Men: Omega #1

"But the public, knowing what it wanted, spinning happily, let the comic books survive."
-Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451

Twitter: @BartLBishop
I'll likely never see this (just not my bag), but I did very much enjoy reading Mark Kermode's enthusiastic FIVE STAR review:

"...perhaps my critical faculties have withered and died."
Our sanitariums are full of men who think they're Napoleon... Or God.
He's not wrong about any of that. I was excited for it, but I was surprised just how taken by its charms I was. It sneaks up on you.
home taping is killing music
Such a huge improvement over the first film.

The musical numbers feel more organic and less tacked in. Lily James is a delight as Young Donna. It also helps that they let the cast that actually sing (Lily James, Cher, Seyfried) do the mainstay of the singing. When "Dancing Queen" came on, i couldn't help but grin. The emotional stuff were also quite touching.

One of the best films of 2018 for me.
I had a really great time with this.

Definitely feels much better put together than the first movie.

James IS great in this. The whole cast is a lot of fun.
This film is the bright ray of sunshine this year needs.
Seeing it again on Sunday. I rarely go to movies more than once - I think the last movie I saw twice in the theater was maybe FORWAKENS? I did see SPOTLIGHT like four times.
home taping is killing music
That Church number with Meryl and Seyfried was sad and touching.
Second time through, you could see the seams a little - it definitely felt like it dragged a tiiiinnny bit once I knew what I was in for, but it's still a delight from start to finish.
home taping is killing music

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