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Film / Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again

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"[T]he best things in life, the very best things, happen unexpectedly."

A sequel to the 2008 Jukebox Musical film Mamma Mia! (which in turn, was based on the ABBA stage musical of the same name), Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again was written and directed by Ol Parker with the help of Richard Curtis (Love Actually) and Catherine Johnson (who created the Mamma Mia! stage musical).

It's been five years after the events of the first film and Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) is preparing a grand reopening of her mother Donna's hotel, with the help of her mother's friends Tanya and Rosie (Christine Baranski and Julie Walters), the staff, as well as hotel manager Mr. Cienfuegos (Andy García), but she is worried that Sky (Dominic Cooper) will not make it in time, and everything seems to be going wrong. A year before, her mother died and the hotel was being redecorated in her honour with a large guest list, reminding Rosie and Tanya about the struggles Donna had when she first got to the island. What follows is a series of flashbacks throughout following younger Donna (Lily James) after she graduated with her friends, when she travelled around Europe, and when she met Sophie's three fathers: Sam (Jeremy Irvine), Bill (Josh Dylan) and Harry (Hugh Skinner).

Virtually every member of the original cast reprises their role from the first; alongside the ones mentioned above, Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth and Stellan Skarsgård reprise their roles as Sam, Harry and Bill respectively, while Cher appears as Sophie's estranged grandmother, Ruby.

Despite considerably better reviews than its predecessor, Here We Go Again, while still successful, grossed about $200 million less at the worldwide box office.

Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again contains examples of:

  • Actually Pretty Funny: Even Donna laughs at Rosie's comment about her many romances:
    Tanya: She's missing her man.
    Rosie: Which one?
    [Tanya, Rosie, and Donna all crack up.]
  • Adam Westing: Cher plays an exaggerated Rich Bitch and Colin Firth gets to chew the scenery.
  • Adaptation Expansion: A larger-scale example. Not only is this an entirely new story that takes place after the original musical, it greatly expands upon Donna's relationships, detailing major events that were merely mentioned in the show and first film. Notably, it's shown that she had already met Harry (who she had already slept with) and Bill before meeting Sam, and even in Sam's case, she got to know him for a week before finally sleeping with him; it's not until after Sam's departure that Donna gets to sleep with Bill. This explains why she wrote about them in each of the diary entries from the first film as if she was already familiar with them.
  • Advertised Extra: Cher, who was prominent throughout the trailers, only arrives at the end of the second act.
  • Ambiguously Bi: Donna, whose first musical number is a gender-swapped performance of "When I Kissed the Teacher" about her kissing a female teacher full on the lips (which occurs on-screen) and getting a sexual thrill from it. She still sleeps with Harry, Sam and Bill, of course.
  • Ambiguously Gay: The ferry employee working at the ticket booth. He's taken quite an interest in Harry's appearance.
  • And Starring: Meryl Streep, who got top billing in the first film, is credited this way in the sequel.
  • Babies Make Everything Better: You have never seen anyone so happy to be a single mother, without so much as attempting to contact one of the three potential fathers to ask for child support.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Rosie and Tanya were around when Donna's mother told her to not come home after she got pregnant. Both of them are glaring daggers at her when she actually turns up.
  • Big Damn Reunion: Following "Dancing Queen", Sophie is reunited with Bill and Harry, and then gives Sky a running reunion hug and kiss.
  • Bittersweet Ending:
    • Past storyline: A misunderstanding results in Donna pushing Sam away and another results in him not going back to her when he tries to leave his fiancé for Donna. As a result, Donna and Sam don't make up for over a decade. Even more heartbreaking as Sam is the only one she truly fell in love with as while she cared for Harry and Bill, it didn't go beyond simple trysts. That all said, Donna has Sophie though and resolves to give her all she can by devoting her life to her.
    • Present storyline: Donna has been gone a few years and it's uncertain as to whether or not the hotel will be as successful as she would have wanted, but years before that, she and Sam reconciled and got married. Sophie also reconciles with her grandmother Ruby, who in turn reunites with her long lost lover Fernando, Mr. Cienfuegos. Sophie also gives birth to a baby boy who she and Sky will raise together.
  • Blade-of-Grass Cut: During "I've Been Waiting for You", when Donna is shown about to give birth to Sophie, there's a brief shot of an Eiffel Tower miniature on the nearby cabinet.
  • Brick Joke: Whenever Donna is mentioned, Rosie starts crying uncontrollably. Near the end when Rosie mentions Donna, Bill starts to cry with her comforting him.
  • Bus Crash: It's been a year since Donna's death. Interestingly, we never find out how she died; this puzzled some viewers because she seemed to be in perfect health during the first film.
  • But Not Too Gay: Even more so than in the first. Harry's homosexuality does not come up at all, he is not seen with any male love interest and his backstory focuses on his romance with Donna without giving any hint that the reason it was doomed to fail was because he was gay. Instead, it looks as though he was just edged out by Donna's romances with Sam and Bill. Enforced Trope because in the original Harry calls it his Last Het Romance but nonetheless seems to remember it fondly.
  • Butt-Monkey: Harry takes a lot of abuse, both in the past and in the present.
  • Canon Foreigner: Donna's mother/Sophie's grandmother Ruby (Cher) is a new character who doesn't appear in the original Broadway musical. The first film even implied that she was dead.note 
  • The Cavalry: A non-military example, naturally; just as it looks like the opening of the hotel will be a disaster, Bill and Harry arrive with an entire flotilla of guests to make it a success.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: That guy Bill and Donna helped out in the flashbacks? Present day, he remembers Bill and still really appreciates what he did, so he gives Bill and Harry a ride to the island... and brings all his friends, too, so the hotel's opening is a success.
  • Comfort Food: Past Rosie suggests to give Donna some cakes to help her get over Sam, when she really wants to be with Bill. Then wanting to eat said cakes when Donna goes off with Bill instead. Present Rosie ponders whether carbs have always been her soulmate.
  • Connected All Along: Mr. Cienfuegos, Sophie's hotel manager, is her grandmother Ruby's long lost love, and thus implied to be her grandfather. She's flabbergasted to find this out.
  • Continuity Snarl: Has its own page.
  • The Cover Changes the Gender: The subject of "When I Kissed the Teacher" is changed from male to female.
  • The Cover Changes the Meaning:
    • "I've Been Waiting for You" originally had an ambiguous tone amongst listeners (it was unclear whether it was about someone meeting their True Love, having a revelation over their relationship or if they were a delighted stalker that had finally got their way), but the movie changed the lyrics almost completely to be about how Sophie is looking forward to being a mother.
    • Averted with "Andante, Andante", which was originally about playing the piano, but the lyrics implied otherwise anyway. The film exploits this as Donna sings it flirtily to Sam a few days into their relationship.
    • Not only is the aforementioned "When I Kissed the Teacher" repurposed to be a song about youths finding freedom instead of a Teacher/Student Romance, we also have "Waterloo", which was originally about a woman accepting the fact that she'll never escape a terrible relationship, and is repurposed to be about Harry "surrendering" to his newfound crush on Donna and confessing his feelings to her to get her to take his virginity.
    • "My Love, My Life" is originally about realizing you're about to break up for good, but here, it's about how much your mother still loves you, even in death.
    • Played With with "The Day Before You Came". It has always been an unconfirmed fan theory that the "you" in the song might not be a love interest, but Death. Streep, whose character died unexpectedly between films, sings it on the soundtrack.
  • Creator Cameo: Two cameos from members of the original group:
    • Björn as one of the teachers onstage when Donna gives her valedictorian speech.
    • Benny plays piano in the Paris restaurant during the "Waterloo" number.
  • Dark Reprise: Sam quietly sings "SOS", the song he and Donna sang a duet to in the first film, while looking at pictures of her after her death.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Sofia, the older Greek woman Donna bonds with. On the topic of the bar her son owns.
    He had to buy a bar, because no other bar would let his band play.
  • Disappeared Dad: It turns out that Donna also had one. It is heavily implied this was Fernando.
  • Distant Duet: Sky and Sophie sing "One of Us" while she's still in Greece and he's in New York.
  • Double-Meaning Title: Triple-Meaning, in this case. "Here We Go Again!" is 1) an obvious reference to the lyric from the titular song, 2) a nod to the fact that the film is a direct sequel, and 3) a reference to Sophie's pregnancy predicament playing out similarly to her mother's.
  • Downtime Downgrade: Bill and Rosie broke up in between films, but they rekindle their relationship while grieving over Donna.
  • Easily Forgiven: Despite never being there for Donna, let alone Sophie, Sophie does allow Ruby into her life. Not before calling her out on it though.
  • Feet-First Introduction: Doubles as an Establishing Character Moment. In the past, the first shot of Donna we see is of her walking quickly in her sparkly platform boots, late for her own graduation.
  • Flashback B-Plot: The story about Sophie is interspersed with flashbacks following younger Donna (as played by Lily James) after she graduated with her friends, when she traveled around Europe, and when she met Sophie's three fathers.
  • Gay Romantic Phase: Implied between the fact that Donna sings "When I Kissed the Teacher" to a female professor during her time at college, and the fact that she never exhibits any romantic interest in women after graduation.
  • Generation Xerox: Sophie gets pregnant at a young age just like her mother, and thanks to the magic of flashbacks, we get to see just how closely their stories mirror each other.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Turns out Rosie liked Bill even back then and was incredibly jealous of Donna.
    Tanya: He can help her feel better.
    Rosie: Do you know what makes me feel better when my heart's broken? Cake. Why doesn't she just do that instead. Just eat humongous amounts of cake and leave hot Scandi guy to me.
  • Hairstyle Inertia: Applies to Tanya and Rosie, who keep their bob and pixie cut (respectively) in the flashbacks and the present day.
  • Happy Ending Override: After Donna and Sam finally reunited, cleared up their misunderstandings and got married at the end of the first film, they only had a few short years together before her death. Ditto to an extent for Sophie, who gained her three dads, but just a few years later lost her mother.
  • I Was Quite the Looker: The ferry worker saying Bill has not aged well since the last time he saw him. In contrast, he said Harry has aged like wine and cheese.
  • Iconic Outfit: Donna's blue overalls, as usual. We even get to see where she got them in a flashback.
  • Ivy League for Everyone: It's revealed that Donna was valedictorian of her class at Oxford. Never mind that universities in the UK don't have valedictorians...
  • Jukebox Musical: True to the Broadway musical and the 2008 film, Here We Go Again features more of ABBA's greatest hits as its musical numbers, including songs like "Angel Eyes" and "When I Kissed the Teacher", "Knowing Me, Knowing You", "Fernando", as well as a few that weren't really hits, like "Kisses of Fire", "My Love, My Life" and a bit of "Arrival".
  • Karma Houdini: Ruby. She was a terrible mother, refused to let Donna return home after she got pregnant with Sophie, and generally didn't keep in contact with either of them over the years. Sophie tells her off but ultimately forgives her and she even reunites with her long-lost love. Some viewers thought she got off too easy.
  • Kitschy Themed Restaurant: Harry and Donna went to a French restaurant with a Napoleonic theme. Fittingly they sing "Waterloo" with the staff and patrons.
  • Last Guy Wins: Sam was the last man Donna met in the flashbacks and the one she ultimately ended up with.
  • Love Theme: In the restaurant before "Waterloo", the piano is softly playing "Our Last Summer".
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Is Sophie merely imagining Donna at her son's christening, or is her spirit really there? The film seems to lean towards the latter, but it could be taken either way.
  • Mood Whiplash: The utterly heartwrenching scene in which Sophie and Donna sing "My Love, My Life" to one another is immediately followed by the entire cast singing and dancing happily along to the very upbeat and fun "Super Trouper".
  • Morning Sickness: How Donna and Sophie realize she's pregnant.
  • The Mountains of Illinois: The first shot of Donna arriving in Paris after her graduation has her instead arriving... on the Place de la Bourse in Bordeaux, which is much, much further down South and as such very easily distinguishable from Paris. Needless to say that suspension of disbelief would not have worked on a French viewer.
  • My Secret Pregnancy: Downplayed. Sophie does tell Tanya, Rosie and Sam that she's pregnant, but she wants to keep it a secret from everyone else. Too bad the word got out once it got to Harry.
    Sophie: We can't tell anybody else about the baby, okay?
    Sam: I just told Bill.
    Bill: Yeah, and I told Harry.
    Harry: And I told many, many people…
  • Mythology Gag: During Harry and Donna's date, a pianist (ABBA's Benny Andersson) plays "Our Last Summer" on the piano. This is the song that the two sing together in the stage musical, and the song that all three fathers sing with Sophie in the first movie.
  • No Antagonist: Except perhaps time itself.
  • Noodle Incident: Bill hoped that his brother won't tell the goat story while he sneaks to Sophie's grand opening. Guess what story he's about to tell at the award ceremony.
  • Origins Episode: The film gives us a closer look at the events in Donna's life that were only alluded to in the original musical and film, most notably her relationships with Sam, Harry and Bill, as well as the formation of Donna and the Dynamos.
  • Parental Substitute: Sofia, the woman who works at the bar Donna sings at becomes this for Donna. She gives Donna a job and a place to live, and rips Sam a new one for not telling Donna he was engaged. She also helped Donna give birth to Sophie.
  • Pair the Spares: Just like the first film, in the "Super Trouper" finale, any time a dad is paired with a dynamo, Harry and Tanya are together. This applies to both their young and old selves, so it’s not likely a coincidence. However, this doesn't go anywhere, since Tanya actively pursues other men, and Harry in turn doesn't seem interested in her at all.
  • Race for Your Love: Donna and Bill help a young fisherman do this, taking him on Bill's boat so he can stop his beloved from marrying a wealthier man. It works.
  • Really Gets Around: Bill, when he was younger. Sofia even says he has so many notches on his bedposts that the whole thing is in danger of collapsing. While she may have been saying that to spite Sam, it's also implied to be the reason why Bill and Rosie broke up between films - Bill can't keep his penis in his pants...
  • Retcon:
    • Donna's mother Ruby wasn't seen in the first film but dialogue implied she was far more Holier Than Thou ("it's Catholic guilt!") than the vain Rich Bitch she is revealed to be here. It was also implied she was dead ("Somebody up there has got it in for me. I bet it’s my mother.") although that might just be Donna being out of the loop...
      • And probably because Donna hadn't left the island for 12 years or so, and guessed that her mom was dead.
    • In the first film, Harry is said to have been a heavy metal rocker in his younger days, which earned him the name "Harry Headbanger". This film's young Harry doesn't match that particular description.
  • Rich Bitch: Donna's mom, Ruby. Not only did she throw Donna out when she got pregnant, but years later shows up in her now adult granddaughter's life completely unwanted and uninvited.
    Ruby: Let's get this party started.
    Sophie: Grandma, you weren't invited.
    Ruby: That's the best kind of party, little girl.
  • Running Gag:
    • Donna insisting she's not the sort of girl to sleep with a man she just met. And immediately correcting herself.
    • The ticket guy at the ferry booth critiquing the changes the various passengers make to their appearance, as opposed to their passports and previous encounters. Except Harry.
  • Separated by the Wall: The Distant Duet "One of Us" features Sophie and her husband Sky sulking after they've just had a fight on the phone. They're countries apart — she's in Greece and he's in New York — but the camera depicts the walls of their room as the same wall. They share the screen as they both mournfully lean against the shared wall. "One of us is lonely," they each lament, imagining that they're the only sad one here, when their partner is — in fact — feeling the exact same thing.
  • Serial Romeo: Donna guesses Bill is this sort, and sums up the distinction between this trope and The Casanova. "One who falls in love every night, but always falls out of it the next morning." However, there's no evidence that Bill is actually like this... but plenty of evidence that Donna is. Takes one to know one, maybe?
  • Settle for Sibling: Early on, Tanya had the hots for Fernando. In the end, she finds love with Fernando's recently widowed brother.
  • Shout-Out: Posters of Boruto and JoJo's Bizarre Adventure can be seen in Tokyo.
  • So Bad, It's Good: In-Universe: Young Donna's opinion of the band on the island. Everyone says they're terrible, and they are, but she loves them for it.
  • Spit Take: When young Rosie tells Tanya she loves Bill and wants to have his babies – and wants to push him around in a wheelchair and scatter his ashes, Tanya does the most dignified version of this trope, spitting her drink back into her glass.
  • The Stinger: The ferry employee yells after Harry, "If she [Donna] rejects you, give me a call." The actor then turns to the camera and sings a few bars of "Take a Chance on Me" before breaking down in giggles.
    Just shout "cut" whenever you want.
  • Sudden Sequel Death Syndrome: Donna passed away between the first film and this one. Her spirit appears near the end though.
  • Time-Shifted Actor: While the first film's cast all reprise their roles, this film adds Lily James as young Donna, Jeremy Irvine as young Sam, Hugh Skinner as young Harry, Josh Dylan as young Bill, Alexa Davies as young Rosie, and Jessica Keenan Wynn as young Tanya.
  • Titled After the Song: Like the stage musical and the first film, it is titled after the song "Mamma Mia" but with an additional line.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Sophie's best friends Ali and Lisa are nowhere to be seen. The same can be said for Pepper and the Greek guy Harry danced away with at the end of the first film.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Sofia gives one hell of a "The Reason You Suck" Speech to Sam for cheating on his fiancee, not telling Donna he was engaged, leaving her, and then trying to come back. Sam fully admits he deserved it.