‘Mamma Mia!’ encore proves borderline excruciating

Updated July 20, 2018 - 1:06 pm

There’s more than a hint of resignation in the title. It practically sounds like a sigh.

“Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again.”

It’s been 10 years since Meryl Streep et al. helped turn ABBA’s back catalog, as well as fodder for a Maury Povich episode, into a musical sensation that grossed $610 million worldwide. “Mamma Mia!” was every bit as ramshackle as the hotel that was constantly falling down around Streep’s Donna Sheridan. “Here We Go Again” finds the former farmhouse, rechristened Hotel Bella Donna, ready for its grand reopening — although taking a wrecking ball to the whole thing would have been far more appropriate.

Remarkably, “Here We Go Again” reassembles every key cast member, although the plot — or what passes for a plot — feels as though it were slapped together as much as a means to incorporate still more ABBA songs as to accommodate the actors’ busy shooting schedules. (“Pierce Brosnan, you free? Perfect.”)

Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) is there from the beginning. Tanya (Christine Baranski) and Rosie (Julie Walters) are around pretty much throughout. Other characters, though, wander in and out, two returnees are absent for the first hour for no real reason, and two of the biggest names show up only for a few minutes near the end.

Instead, most of the heavy lifting is done by actors portraying Donna, her friends and her lovers Sam, Bill and Harry during that wild summer of 1979 when she first visited the Greek island of Kalokairi.

Lily James is radiant as a young Donna. Jessica Keenan Wynn and Alexa Davies successfully mimic Donna’s Dynamos, Tanya and Rosie. In descending order of accuracy, Hugh Skinner (Colin Firth’s Harry), John Dylan (Stellan Skarsgard’s Bill) and Jeremy Irvine (Brosnan’s Sam) serve as the objects of Donna’s very divided — and often fleeting — affections.

What none of them accomplishes, however, is adding anything to the story. All the pertinent details of the flashbacks were summed up by a couple of lines of exposition in the original. Sure, with “Here We Go Again,” moviegoers will learn precisely how Donna found her overalls, but as “Solo: A Star Wars Story” proved, no one really needs to see that kind of thing.

Not only does “Here We Go Again” rehash the stories told in the original, it brings back the missed-ferry contrivance more than once — forget opening a hotel; the smart money is in the much-needed ferry business — as well as several of the songs.

Granted, my knowledge of ABBA’s musical output isn’t exactly what you’d call vast, but I’m not sure whether I was more surprised to learn that “When I Kissed the Teacher” was a song, or that it was deemed appropriate to be the first musical number in a movie opening in 2018.

Then again, I’m still confused as to whether ABBA exists in the “Mamma Mia” universe. Is that why all the characters know the words to these songs? Did Bill hear them on Kalokairi and take them back to his native Sweden, a la Chuck’s cousin Marvin Berry in “Back to the Future”?

This may be the biggest downer of a musical since “Les Miserables.” I’d written in my notes that it feels like “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel: The Musical” long before I realized that “Marigold Hotel” screenwriter Ol Parker wrote and directed “Here We Go Again.”

Cher, the sequel/prequel’s biggest addition, portrays Sophie’s grandmother, Ruby, a singer who “hasn’t been seen outside of Las Vegas in decades” — even though she’s essentially playing Cher. (Pay no attention to the fact that Donna said her mother was dead in the original.)

If you enjoyed “Mamma Mia,” odds are you’ll like this one, too — albeit somewhat less.

I love a good musical. I even love a bad musical — “Grease 2” is a personal favorite. But “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again” is simply forced, listless and borderline excruciating.

The next line in the titular lyrics, following “Mamma mia, here I go again” is “My my, how can I resist you?”

Quite easily, it turns out.

Contact Christopher Lawrence at clawrence@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-4567. Follow @life_onthecouch on Twitter.

ad-high_impact_4
Entertainment
Benny the Ice Skating Dog
Benny is a Las Vegas Labrador who was rescued by former pro skater Cheryl Del Sanyo, and trained to ice skate. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Nevada State Museum
The Nevada State Museum of Las Vegas, located at the Springs Preserve, covers all eras of the state, from prehistoric to today.
Throw a better dinner party
Cash appears at Baseball Winter Meetings
Lights FC mascot Cash plays the electronic drums at the EZ Inflatables’ booth on Tuesday at the Baseball Winter Meetings trade show at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino.
5 albums to soundtrack your holiday gatherings in style
1. Various Artists, “Holidays Rule," with Rufus Wainwright, The Shins, Calexico and more. 2. Various Artists, “We Wish You a Metal Xmas and a Headbanging New Year," with Lemmy Kilmister, Alice Cooper, Chuck Billy and others. 3. Various Artists, “Christmas on Death Row," featuring Snoop Dogg and Nate Dogg to name but a few. 4. Bright Eyes, “A Christmas Album.” 5. Various Artists, "The Motown Christmas Album." (Jason Bracelin/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Inside the kitchen at Springs Preserve
The staff of Divine Events do party preparation in the kitchen at Divine Cafe at Springs Preserve. With nine parties the following day, this is a particularly busy time for the crew. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
WinterFest
WinterFest in Henderson.
Miss Rodeo America Fashion Show
The 28 women contestants of Miss Rodeo America compete in a fashion show at the Tropicana on Dec. 7, 2018.
Tournament Of Kings Holiday Show
Wizards and warriors are ready for the holidays at Excalibur's Tournament of Kings Holiday Dinner Show.
Take a dive with the Silverton mermaids
A visit to the Silverton Casino Hotel is not complete without taking in the popular, and very unique, mermaid show.
Cowboys and western aficionados can buy virtually anything at Cowboy Christmas
Vegas Golden Knights Christmas Display
In the Las Vegas Valley, the chances of getting a white Christmas are slim. But this year, you can have a “Knight” Christmas. A Henderson resident has a Christmas lights display that is synchronized to the entrance music for the Golden Knights. GG Misa’s Knights light show is played every 30 minutes from 5 to 10 nightly. His light show consists of two songs: Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You” and the entrance music, “Le Castle Vania,” from the movie “John Wick.” The display is located at 730 Bollons Island St. (Richard Brian/Las Vegas Reivew-Journal)
Holiday Hooch At El Cortez is Just in Time For Repeal Day And Christmas
Holiday Hooch At El Cortez Is Just In Time For Repeal Day And Christmas. Janna Karel/Las Vegas Review-Journal
TV's LGBT superheroes
Green Valley Ranch's Winter's Village
The Mob Museum
Best Friend Menu Reveal Wednesday
Chef Roy Choi tells us what to expect from Wednesday’s Facebook Live Menu Reveal for his new Park MGM restaurant Best Friend. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Quick Chat With Criss Angel
James D. Gish and Susan Anton rehearse
Susan Anton will be special guest at James D. Gish’s holiday concerts Dec. 7 at Summerlin Library and Dec. 9 at Clark County Library. (John Przybys/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bellagio Winter Wonderland
"Majestic Holiday Magic" at the Bellagio Conservatory.
Underwater Santa At The Silverton
Santa takes a dive Sunday, December 2, at the Silverton Casino Hotel. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Cowabunga Bay Christmas Town
Las Vegas Natural History Museum
Las Vegas Natural History Museum, which opened in 1991, has exhibits of mechanical dinosaurs and taxidermied animals, along with live snakes, fish and sharks. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Magical Forest Lights
Cirque Du Soleil Performers Team Up For New Show "Kinekt"
Through dance, acrobatics and aerial arts, “Kinekt” tells a story all too familiar to modern families: how to maintain a human connection in the digital age. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Ethel M Holiday Cactus Garden
The Pinball Hall of Fame in Las Vegas
The Pinball Hall of Fame was created by Tim Arnold and opened in 2006. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Jump! The Ultimate Dog Show at Springs Preserve in Las Vegas
Trainer Lou “Mack” McCammon guides several rescue dogs through a series of tricks and jumps two shows a day weekends through December at the Springs Preserve in Las Vegas. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Buddy V - Sep 21 Confidante
Famous Infinity Mirror Room is open in Las Vegas
Yayoi Kusama's "Aftermath of Obliteration of Infinity" mirror room is open at the Bellagio in Las Vegas (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like