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Blu-Ray Pick of the Week: Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again

“Sorry to Bother You” is also new to Blu-Ray this week. 

Vibrant and colorful, a movie like “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again” is a rarity in this day and age of dark and gritty reality so often being splashed on screen. The movie is unapologetically sweet and ebullient, powered by music from 1970s disco pop group ABBA. Even in the sad moments the sadness is done in a sweet way.

As may be recalled from the first movie, “Mamma Mia!” from 2008, Donna (Meryl Streep) had three lovers that may be Sophie’s (Amanda Seyfried) father: Sam (Pierce Brosnan), Harry (Colin Firth), and Bill (Stellan Skarsgård). What we get in this sequel, in a “Godfather Part II” sort of way, is two stories in one. The first takes place circa 2005 as Sophie readies for the grand opening of her Hotel Bella Donna, named after her mother and located on a Greek island. The second story takes place in 1979 as we meet young Donna (Lily James) as she graduates college and sets off on an adventure where she meets the young versions of Sophie’s possible fathers. Young Harry (Hugh Skinner) is an anxious Brit studying to be a banker. Young Bill (Josh Dylan) is a dashing Swede with his own boat. Last but not least, young Sam (Pierce Brosnan) is a veterinarian living on the island who sweeps her off her feet. She falls for each of them, and they for her.

More than just a fun romp of a story, “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again” puts on a show. The sun-kissed Greek island setting is absolutely gorgeous. It looks like the kind of place that never sees a drop of rain—until a terrible storm hits one evening and throws a wrench in Sophie’s plans. I can’t blame young Donna for choosing to stay there. The crystal clear water and captivating mountain coast are pretty inviting.

The ‘70s-era costumes are a hoot as well. Flashy, colorful, multi-belled bottoms and high heeled boots abound. The skill of Donna and her friends, the young versions of Tanya (Jessica Keenan Wynn) and Rosie (Alexa Davies), to move and dance around wearing that get up is not be underestimated. Even more impressive is when the older Tanya (Christine Baranski) and Rosie (Julie Walters) don the costumes themselves.

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Of course, no review of this ABBA-based musical would be complete without discussing the song and dance numbers. There are quite a few show stoppers spread throughout the movie, starting with young Donna singing “When I Kissed the Teacher” at her graduation, which turns into an ensemble bicycle ride and choreographed dance number in a park. The well-known ABBA staples are here too, including “Dancing Queen,” “Waterloo,” and of course, “Mamma Mia!” The most fun is when the song integrates seamlessly into the story. When Sophie’s grandmother Ruby, played by Cher, sees Andy Garcia’s character in the distance and calls out his name, Fernando, well—let’s just say that ABBA fans will grin in acknowledgement of the song about to be sung and the story it tells.

While the cast is amazing and a joy to watch all around, Lily James deserves a special call out for her performance as young Donna. She carries her story very well as the lead and is infectiously likeable in the role. She out-Streeps a young Streep on the charm scale, and it’s plain to see why the three young men would fall so completely head over heels for her.

Movies don’t get much more bright and bubbly than “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again!” It’s an estrogen-fueled romp that surpasses the original in cheerful exuberance and leaves you feeling good after watching it. I would “Go Again” with this movie any time. Buy it.

Also New This Week

Sorry to Bother You

“Sorry to Bother You” has a lot going on. The movie is highly allegorical, taking place in an alternate universe Oakland where young black man Cassius Green (Lakeith Stanfield) discovers that he is much more successful at telemarketing when he puts on his “white voice” (voice of David Cross). His co-workers are less successful, and led by a man named Squeeze (Steven Yeun), they form a union and go on strike. Green is promoted though, and is tasked with caring for the telemarketing company’s high-profile client Worry Free, a community that provides people food and housing in exchange for their labor and is led by the power hungry Steve Lift (Armie Hammer).

When I first saw the in-movie advertisement for Worry Free, I noted that it sounded a lot like Communism. However, as the movie progresses, it’s made clear that Worry Free is meant to be a stand in for slavery. Interesting how the two are so closely related. Communism and slavery are pretty much the same thing, except that one is government sponsored and the other is privately owned. Same house, different coat of paint.

What is definitely Communist is the union formed by Squeeze. Anyone not on strike and seeking to better himself by using his talent and skill is seen as a scab. There is no middle ground, compromise, or sympathy for someone who doesn’t want to be a part of the mob and just wants to be left alone so he can improve his lot in life. The union wants everyone brought down to the same level. For them, equality means that everyone operates with the same amount of mediocrity and no one is allowed to rise above the masses and be exceptional. I can’t blame someone as skilled at what he does as Cassius for wanting to get beyond that and be as successful as possible.

There is something that happens that changes Cassius’s mind, which I will not divulge. I will only say that it puts him in a position of moral crisis and forces him to make a choice. From a character stand point it makes sense, since Cassius sees the fault in the Communist rhetoric and how it hinders rather than helps him. I believe that if the extremely bizarre and fantastical revelation about Worry Free did not come to light, he would have been happy to carry on doing what he does best. Stream it.

More New Releases: “Celebrating Mickey,” a collection of Disney shorts featuring the famous mouse, who celebrates his 90th birthday this year, including the 1928 seminal classic “Steamboat Willie”; “I Think We’re Alone Now,” about a recluse who discovers that he is not the only one left after a worldwide apocalypse, starring Peter Dinklage, Elle Fanning, Charlotte Gainsbourg, and Paul Giamatti; and “Cross of Iron,” jumbled, puzzling, inconsistent, barely coherent, and extremely disappointing 1977 movie by otherwise good and competent director Sam Peckinpah, from a script co-written by Julius Epstein (who also co-wrote “Casablanca”) about a platoon of German soldiers during World War II, starring James Coburn, Maximilian Schell, and James Mason.

Andrew Hudak is a lifelong film lover. His column on Blu-Ray new releases appears every Tuesday. He lives in Connecticut.