I loved the original Mama Mia, which came out in 2008 and starred a delightful cast headlined by Meryl Streep — who looked to be having more fun in this role than she does in a lot of her more serious ones. Streep is a trained singer, and she covered the ABBA songs herself. So did Pierce Brosnan, with notably less success. 🙂
I miss Streep in the sequel, despite her cameo performance at the end and although the actress who plays the young Donna Sheridan does a fine job. She’s just not Meryl Streep. Noticeably, everyone who has returned from the original is ten years older. Christine Baranski is 66, not 56. Julie Walters is 68, not 58. Their acting hasn’t suffered with age, but their ability to move has. I loved Baranski’s beach dance in the first Mama Mia; she manages nothing quite so energetic this time around. Baranski is a Juilliard graduate, and she covers her own singing and dancing routines too — just within the capacities of an energetic and fit 66 year old. Walters isn’t dancing on any tables in Mama Mia II, although her passion for Stellen Skarsgard is undimmed. Ten years does make a difference.
The big new plus in Mama Mia II is Cher, who plays Ruby Sheridan, Streep’s mother and Amanda Seyfried’s grandmother. Cher enters in all her campy glory in a Lady Gaga blonde wig, and belts out a great rendition of Fernando. Cher is 72, and she is showing age too, in her body if not in her voice. Cher used to stride onstage with a swagger and an energy that declared to all the world that she owned the place — even in the early days when she dragged Sonny Bono along for the ride. Now she enters the scene like someone with two arthritic hips and hardly moves at all. But hey, it’s Cher. She could do the scene lying down, and it would work.
Some of the best ABBA songs are reprised in this version, like Dancing Queen. And Cher doing Fernando along with Andy Garcia is smoking hot.
If you like Mama Mia, you’ll like the sequel. It’s always been a chick flick for women of a certain age, and Cher brings in a robust gay male audience. Together, we’re making Mama Mia II a summer smash hit.