Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again (3 stars)

Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again

Cher is divine and the mother-daughter love story is touching in this ABBA-fuelled sequel

Unless you have been in isolation during the hyping of this ABBA-fuelled sequel you must have heard that, if for nothing else, it is worth seeing for the fabulosity that is Cher. And it's no lie. Her character, Ruby, is referenced early in the busy plot by Amanda Seyfried's Sophie as her grandmother – a singer who, 'hasn't been seen outside of Las Vegas for decades'. When she finally arrives it is with suitable fanfare, a platinum wig and the vivacity of a plastic simulacrum. Just watch her slay a version of 'Fernando'.

As to everything else, it is a so-so musical romantic dramedy confection, resuming the story of the characters we left dancing and romancing on the idyllic Greek isle a decade ago. Now scattered, they reunite for the reopening of the ramshackle farmhouse turned boutique hotel La Bella Donna. Sophie and love Sky (Dominic Cooper) are on opposite sides of the world but writer-director Ol Parker (the screenwriter behind the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel films) establishes his intent to make things more cinematic this time around with nifty visual compositions for their wistful duet of 'One of Us'. When Sophie discovers she is pregnant we're off on a voyage through time – her experience of life, love and loss twinned with that of mother Donna, played in her youth by Lily James, who is adorable with a capital A and sings up a storm.

The ABBA Songbook is sufficiently scrumptious to provide another raft of get-up-and-dance numbers, joyously staged and choreographed in a sunny orgy of sky, sea, sentiment and silliness. Warbling veterans Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth, Stellan Skarsgård, Christine Baranski and Julie Walters are again good sports and their youthful counterparts (Jeremy Irvine, Hugh Skinner, Josh Dylan, Jessica Keenan Wynn and Alexa Davies) are charming – the flashbacks to Donna's encounters with Sophie's three dads delightful.

And where is Meryl, you ask? We won't be the ones to let the cat out of the bag but she is in this movie, and when she appears it is a beautiful thing. Honestly, for all its absurdities and cue-up-another-song sub-plots it is the mother-daughter love story that touches the heart, and the film's joyful esprit de corps really is irresistible.

General release from Fri 20 Jul.

Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again

  • 3 stars
  • 2018
  • UK / US
  • 1h 54min
  • PG
  • Directed by: Ol Parker
  • Cast: Christine Baranski, Jessica Keenan Wynn, Julie Walters, Alexa Davies, Pierce Brosnan, Jeremy Irvine, Colin Firth, Hugh Skinner, Stellan Skarsgård, Josh Dylan, Cher, Dominic Cooper, Andy García
  • UK release: 20 July 2018

Sequel to the feel-good ABBA musical Mamma Mia! Despite its absurdities and shoe-horning of ABBA songs, at its heart is a touching mother-daughter love story and an irresistible esprit de corps.