The early reference to Witches of Eastwick co-star Cher as “The Wicked Witch” in Mamma Mia! 2 Here We Go Again! Is just a hint at the references to 1939’s The Wizard of Oz in this wacky, colorful, beautifully filmed sequel to 2008’s Mamma Mia, The Movie. (Oz playing Mon, Aug 13 Coolidge Corner Theatre – Map 6:15 pm 7:00 pm)
Now, if you don’t read up on the first film, which this writer did not see, it will be convoluted from the start, so try Wikipedia if you didn’t and you are going to (see the new flick without having the storyline in your head!)
This is an erotic version of the Wizard of Oz, and I’m not kidding when I say that. Read further for more details.
Mamma Mia! 2 Here We Go Again has parallel timelines, which the filmmakers expect you realize, and for some reason, they have killed off Meryl Streep’s character, Donna Sheridan, and have actress Lily James playing a younger version of her, though Streep is in the film, as a ghost. Streep is Glinda the Good Witch juxtaposed against her film mama Cher as the Wicked Witch of the West. Confused yet?
Though the 2018 release is ten years after the 2008 original (and 19 years after the stage show) it is supposedly set five years after the 2008 release with Amanda Seyfried (from Channing Tatum’s Dear John hit) again as Sophie. Seyfried does bear a resemblance to actress Lily James, who – as stated – plays the younger version of Sophie/Seyfried’s mother, it’s a lot of character development to get up to speed to without seeing the first film, so buyer beware.
Lily James as young Donna gets to bang the Scarecrow (handsome Hugh Skinner as Colin Firth’s character “Harry,”) the Tin Woodsman (handsome Josh Dylan as a younger Stellan Skarsgård’s character “Bill,”) and the pièce de résistance Pierce Brosnan’s younger Sam, hunky handsome Jeremy Irvine. In other words, this Twilight Zone meets Golden Girls version of a 26-year-old Dorothy Gale from Kansas is a slut having casual sex with every guy she meets on her yellow brick road to some Gilligan’s Island in Greece. It’s the Matrix of chick flicks grabbing elements from the fun film and TV shows and throwing them into the mix master for your summer pleasure. There’s even a Kansas-styled tropical weather storm (not a twister) to try to wreck the party too!, so don’t think the Wizard wasn’t on the filmmakers’ minds. He was!
When Scarecrow/Young Harry Hugh Skinner begs Donna (let me repeat – Lily James as the reconstituted Dorothy from Oz) for casual sex, even claiming to be a virgin, they go into Abba’s breakthrough hit “Waterloo” (the ending credits song from the first film) in a bizarre Munchkinland kind of foreplay in a bar before they IHop it into bed. Even their meeting in a hotel with Skinner in his bathrobe is in your face sexuality, not to mention the camera zooming in suggestively on both sexes. With the zillions of dollars the original film and its DVD spawned (in an age where DVDs do not sell as they used to,) the producers/powers that be, including Abba and Tom Hanks, know what they’ve got and deliver the goods to the audience that they know is out there.
Girls will drag their boyfriends to this chick flick, but the guys might get into the swing of things as the acting is superb all the way around, surpassing the twisted script. As with any good Golden Girls episode, you will see the jokes coming; it’s the delivery that each actor puts into it that makes it all work.
Cher getting it on with an older Andy Garcia as “Fernando” – which is a spoiler – is just part of the star power of Sunny Bono’s ex. Cher steals the show, the build-up is to Cher, and the critics at the early screening applaud her performance. The rock icon brings everything to an entirely different level, and her duet with Garcia on “Fernando” has hit record written all over it. The ending song, “Super Trouper,” which played in the original film, is a take-off of the conclusion of Kevin Kline’s gay farce In and Out where enemies and friends all party and dance together to The Village People’s Macho Man
Super Trouper has Cher and Toto Too, well, not Toto Too, but you get the idea. A bizarre but fun sexy summer oasis that is at times incomprehensible, so just suspend your belief and go along for the ride.
Joe Viglione is the Chief Film Critic at TMRZoo.com. He has written thousands of reviews and biographies for AllMovie.com, Allmusic.com, Gatehouse Media, Al Aronowitz’s The Blacklisted Journal, and a variety of other media outlets. Joe also produces and hosts Visual Radio, a seventeen year old variety show on cable TV which has interviewed Jodie Foster, director/screenwriter David Koepp, Michael Moore, John Cena, comics/actors Margaret Cho, Gilbert Gottfried, Gallagher, musicians Mark Farner and Don Brewer of Grand Funk Railroad, Ian Hunter of Mott The Hoople, Ray Manzarek, John Densmore, Felix Cavaliere of The Rascals, political commentator Bill Press and hundreds of other personalities.