Film & Television

‘Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again’—Seriously Silly and Simply Delightful

Ten years ago, when Mamma Mia! was released, Meryl Streep was asked why she would choose to be a part of it. It didn’t seem like the most natural of fits. This wasn’t a comment on her vocal abilities; she had sung in movies before and studied voice as well as acting in graduate school. Rather, it was surprising to see a woman commonly held to be “the world’s greatest living actress” — with countless awards and nominations to back that up — starring in a movie that lacked, shall we say, the gravitas she deserved.

Streep explained that her connection to the project stemmed from being a New Yorker during 9/11. Soon after the terrorist attack, she found herself planning a birthday party for her youngest daughter.

“Everybody was really dimmed spiritually. I thought, ‘What am I going to do with the kids?’ So, I took all these 10-year-olds to see a matinee of Mamma Mia! They walked in and they sat there with their heads in their hands. Dimmed is the word — they were sad all the time. The first part was really wordy, and then “Dancing Queen” started up. And for the rest of the show they were dancing on their chairs and they were so, so happy. We all went out of the theatre floating on the air. I thought, ‘What a gift to New York right now’. I sent a thank-you letter to the cast.”

When director Phyllida Lloyd approached her to be in the movie version, Streep readily agreed. “It’s a film about women and their whole experiences being hopeful and youthful, and older and suffering; the regrets that you have over a long life. It’s visceral and I love that.”

Thankfully, we haven’t experienced a terrorist attack of 9/11’s magnitude again. However, today’s headlines are spiritually dimming at best. For fans of the original movie, the timing for another Mamma Mia! couldn’t be better.

The 2008 film, based on the extremely successful stage production, earned lukewarm reviews and red-hot box-office receipts (nearly $610 million worldwide). Set on the Greek (but fictitious) island of Kalokairi, Mamma Mia! tells the story of single mother and aspiring inn-keeper Donna (Streep) and her young daughter Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) on the eve of Sophie’s wedding to the hunky and improbably named Sky (Dominic Cooper). Unbeknownst to Donna, Sophie has invited three of her mother’s old flings: Sam, Harry, and Bill (Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth, and Stellan Skarsgard), hoping to uncover who her father is. Donna, down on her luck but still romantically frisky, is supported by her best friends and backup singers: Tanya and Rosie (Christine Baranski and Julie Walters). Things become impossibly complicated until the end, when they rather miraculously straighten themselves out. And, of course, the entire story is set to ABBA tunes. Because . . . why not?

As silly as it sounds (and absolutely is), the movie makes you smile a lot, cry a little, and hum ABBA songs for days until your unfortunate spouse or officemate threatens to kill you.

Start the conversation

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.