I have a dream of enjoying this franchise so I took a chance on it with a voulez view. One of us is loving this riff and I’ll try and keep it up, knowing me… knowing you.

Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again is the sequel to the 2008 jukebox musical and stars mostly everybody from that film. The story concerns… well look, there isn’t really a plot. It’s more a series of things that happen. Some in the present with Amanda Seyfried, some in the past with young Meryl Streep, played by Lily James.

I don’t mind the first Mamma Mia!. It’s a bit of harmless campy fun with a fantastic soundtrack from the greatest pop band of all time. The sequel, though, I’m very mixed on. I found the first half to be genuinely atrocious. Like a flaccid, tired energyless washed-up pop star, it trudged through lukewarm sequences with a cast who all looked half asleep. As mentioned, there isn’t really any story, it’s very clear they are bending over backwards to engineer sequences for ABBA songs. The first one does this as well but it isn’t nearly as transparent as the sequel.

To that point, it’s also very obvious that they’re relying on ABBA’s B-list of tunes. They’ve had to delve into the back-catalogue a bit and no one’s visibly happy about it. I’m sure ‘Why did it have to be me‘ is a fine song in its own right but, come on, it’s no Dancing Queen. I was genuinely considering walking out, something I’ve never done.

At some point though, maybe the halfway point, maybe a bit after, it’s like someone just flicks a switch. The director suddenly points a camera at Julie Walters and the film kicks into gear. Colin Firth, Stellan Skarsgård, and Christine Baranski get more screentime and suddenly it’s like the first one again. Lighthearted, heartwarming fun takes centre-stage and the soundtrack reverts to the songs everyone knows. I’d be lying if I didn’t start to grin. There are even some fairly solid jokes. In particular. I found Baranski and a delightful recurring bit from Omid Djalili hilarious despite myself.

In a nutshell, this movie had a lot of work to do with how much bad-will it’d built within me by the halfway mark, and it managed it. I think I just prefer the older actors, they’re effortlessly charming and even my cold heart had melted by the end.

Oh and if you’ve seen the trailers and wonder why I’ve waited until the last line of this review to mention Cher, it’s because that’s what the film does too. Cher is only in the last ten minutes and plays no significant role (beyond the only ‘twist’ that genuinely surprised and delighted me).