Donna’s pair of chucks rest on the floor after she moves into her dream “home”.
The music of ABBA can best be described as nostalgic. Their songs take you back to a time in your life you never know you missed. It may be a memory you cherish or one you that only ever existed in your head, but ABBA’s music takes you there like it was a movie. That makes their catalog perfect for not only a musical, but also a movie musical! Mamma Mia! Is a jukebox musical that first premiered in 1999 telling the story of a mother, daughter, and her three possible dads. It was a massive hit on Broadway and around the world, so much so that Universal picked up the film rights and greenlit a feature length film in 2008. The first film was a huge success and with the original cast all on board, a sequel was made. Released in 2018, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again stars the ensemble cast of Dominic Cooper, Amanda Seyfried, Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth, Stellan Skarsgård, Jeremy Irvine, Josh Dylan, Hugh Skinner, Lily James, Jessica Keenan Wynn, Alexa Davies, Christine Baranski, Julie Walters, Andy García, Meryl Streep, and Cher.
Sophie leads the reopening of Hotel Bella Donna in memory of her mother.
In 1979, a young Donna Sheridan (James) graduates from Oxford’s New College with Rosie (Davies) and Tanya (Wynn). The ceremony goes haywire as they sing “When I Kissed the Teacher” and afterward, Donna tells her girls that she dreams of an island in Greece called Kalokairi. She doesn’t really have a home to go back to, as her mom Ruby (Cher) is an absentee superstar. She decides to follow her dream and travel to Greece. In modern times, Donna’s (Streep) daughter Sophie (Seyfried) is dealing with her recent passing and the reopening of the hotel that shares her name. She is assisted by one of her dads, Sam (Brosnan), but unfortunately her other two dads, Bill (Skarsgård) and Harry (Firth), are unable to come to the reopening due to prior commitments. She is aslo feeling distant from her partner, Sky (Cooper) as he has been away studying hotel management and has been offered a permanent job in New York City. The debate their futures and yearn as they sing “One of Us”.
Sam in his younger days wore chucks just like his daughter.
Making her way to Greece via Paris, a young Donna meets awkward sweetheart Harry (Skinner), and he instantly falls in love with her over the song “Waterloo”. They spend the night together, but Donna leaves the next day for Greece. She misses the ferry Kalokairi but is offered a ride by Bill Anderson (Dylan) in his boat. As the two sail, they dance, flirt, and sing "Why Did It Have to Be Me?" However, unbeknownst to Donna, Harry followed her to Greece but he missed her and wil always wonder what could have been. Back in the present, Rosie (Walters) and Tanya (Baranski) arrive to support Sophie, and she shows them the new hotel while singing "I Have a Dream". This scene mirrors Donna in the past in what the hotel used to be, and showcases the relationship between the two across decades. This goes even further as both Sophie and Donna deal with a heavy storm hitting the island. In the past, the storm breaks the barn and scares a horse as Donna is helped by a young Sam Carmichael (Irvine). In the present, the storm destroys the party decorations as Sophie is helped by Sam. This dual story-telling creates a emotional connection between the two time periods and as the story goes on it just gets better and better. While we may know how Donna’s story ends, the journey to get there and the similarities it shares with Sophie’s is the real heart of this film.
Sophie steps down the new stairs in her blue chucks.
This story structure is held up by the performances by the two leads, Amanda Seyfried and Lily James. Seyfried is perfect as Sophie as you truly believe she is just a pure person who wants to do her mother’s memory justice. Lily James perfectly nails the carefree nature of Donna, but also captures the same energy and mannerisms of Meryl Streep from the first film. She also just absolutely kills every performance she does. ABBA is timeless and even though they use primarily the same songs as the first film, the different settings and scenarios bring new life to the structure of this musical. Honestly, the characters and structure make for a more complete and better story than the original film and musical. That makes this one of the few times in movie history where the sequel is better than the original.
Sam tries to go after Donna after his truth is revealed to her.
Sophie does her best to keep her decorations from blowing away.
The best chucks scene in the film comes at the inflection point for both our stories. As Sophie prepares the hotel for its big reopening, she walks around in a pair of blue low top chucks which is very fitting given the relaxed nature of the whole island of Kalokairi. She is told by her hotel manager Señor Fernando (Garcia) that a storm is coming but she brushes it off. Inevitably though, a storm does roll in and destroys the setting for the party. Sophie does her best to keep some of the decorations from blowing away but she struggles on her own. However, Sam steps in and helps her hold some of them down as they are battered by the wind and the rain. It’s a touching moment that shows how much Sam cares for Sophie and how at this point in the film, he is the only one she can really rely on. By mirroring the way Sam met Donna, just shows how close Donna and Sophie are and that at the end of the day, Sam is truly a good guy.
Sophie stands in what used to be her perfect picture reopening setup.
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