Gift getting for Mom can be tough. You’re no longer a kiddo who can DIY a fingerpainting for the perfect present. But fret not! Because there’s a fabulous gift that doesn’t demand you consider diet restrictions or vanity sizing. Because one of the many pleasures of Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again is that it’s one size fits all. But in case you need more convincing, here’s a rundown of all the reasons Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again is the perfect gift for Mom.
1. Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again is the spirited sequel and charming companion to the original Mamma Mia, which was based on the hit Broadway musical. It continues the love story of Bohemian mamma Donna (Streep) and her darling daughter Sophie (Amanda Seyfried), who discovered her MIA daddy could be one of three men her mother met one magical summer. This sequel swings back and forth in time, telling us what happened with Sophie after she met her could-be dads and swings back to reveal how Young Donna (Lily James) met the lot!
2. It’s romantic but not uncomfortably sexy. Like, you can watch this with even the primmest mom and not have to look for an excuse to flee. Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again is pretty chaste onscreen, as all its hanky panky is offscreen. But none of this puts a damper on the romance as Young Donna spins through posh French restaurants, sea-striding yachts, and an idyllic Greek village.
3. Lily James. Imagine how daunting it must have been to be cast as Young Donna. You’re not only taking on a character that’s beloved by millions around the world, but also one that was originated on film by one of the greatest actresses to ever live. Yet this English ingenue slid into her American accent and Streep swagger as easily as she did Donna’s cozy dungarees!
4. The Dads. In the first film, Stellan Skarsgård, Pierce Brosnan, and Colin Firth offered up a beguiling trio of crushes to swoon over. They’re all back and adorable. Plus, they’re joined by their younger versions, Josh Dylan, Jeremy Irvine, and Hugh Skinner, each with a song number that succinctly seduces both Donna and the audience.
5. Young Harry. All the dads are charming, but for me the standout is Hugh Skinner as Young Harry “Headbanger.” The way he’s described in the first film, you might imagine him as some sort of Sid Vicious type. But writer/director Ol Parker went for something less vicious and more deliciously sweet. Young Harry wears a leather jacket, but has more the vibe of an edgy blazer. And his punk rock tee of the queen looks like it’s been delicately ironed. He’s barely a rebel but in his uninhibited and deeply delightful performance of “Waterloo,” you can see he dreams to be. No wonder he was attracted to free-spirited Donna. Even if they wouldn’t ever be a perfect couple, I’m still pulling for him My Best Friend’s Wedding style. There wouldn’t be marriage or sex. But by GOD there would be dancing!
6. Colin Firth “dancing.” It’s been 10 years since the original Mamma Mia, and yeah some of its stars aren’t as dexterous as they used to be. (We can’t all be the goddess Christine Baranski.) But that’s also part of the charm! In a special feature, Firth offers, “My dancing is essentially standing, but faster.” He’s not wrong. And we’re not mad at it.
Naturally, Anthony Van Laast declared, “Colin not dancing at all is the highlight of my choreographic career.”
7. “ABBA music has an indescribable joy in it.” Those are the words of the great Meryl Streep, who reprises the role of Donna in this sassy sequel. And who are we to disagree?
8. Sing-Along Cut! There’s a slew of special features on the Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again Blu-ray and DVDs, chief among them a version that offers subtitles so you can sing along karaoke style. And in case your Mamma needs a just a brief boost of ABBA fun, there’s a section in the special features where you can select individual song numbers, or even play all of them, skipping the dialogue scenes!
9. Behind-the-scenes featurettes. Curious about the costumes, choreography, casting? There’s brief but lovely bits on each. You’ll learn about Easter Eggs, like how the Dynamos costumes for their opening number were cut from their curtains. (Keep an eye peeled when they’re in Donna’s sky-high apartment). Plus, there are jaw-dropping details about how they planned the big “Mamma Mia” number, which included three boats, a helicopter, and 150 dancers!
10. That show-stopping “Super Trouper” Curtain Call. The whole cast new and “legacy” join forces for an ABBA homage full of funk and glitter! And how it all came together is explored through various special features, like ones about the new cast mates finding their groove as the Young versions of the classic characters.
11. Young Tonya. Look, Lily James is divine as young Donna. Alexa Davies nails it as the younger version of Julie Walter’s Rosie. But oh my. If there was any justice in this world, Jessica Keenan Wynn would get an Oscar for perfectly picking up the sexy swagger of Christine Baranski’s Tanya. She had us at “I just want to be upfront and say that I visually enjoy you.” She studied Baranski’s physicality and cadence and recreates both in a way that feels so thorough and thrilling it makes us suspect time travel was involved. Watching the two geek out in the “Tonya meets Tonya” section is just gravy.
12. Fernando. When Andy Garcia swans onto the scene as Senor Cienfuegos, you might not anticipate the big role he’ll play in act three. But even if you do, it’s exhilarating to hear Cher’s big bold performance of the classic ABBA jam. Fun facts: Cher was allowed to choose who would be her scene partner. So Garcia was hand-picked by one of the world’s greatest divas. And he was lived for every moment. In the “Super Trouper” intro, he was only supposed to walk Cher to the stage, then exit the scene. Instead, he asked if he could join the dance and did! Look for him among the extras.
13. This movie is “irresistible.” It is unbridled joy! Just as our reviewer Roxana Hadidi. It didn’t even matter that she is “not an ABBA person! Or even really a Cher person!” It did not matter that she thinks Meryl Streep is “kind of overrated,” or that she’d only watched the first film to prep for reviewing its sequel. She nonetheless dubbed Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again “flawless.” I bet your mom will too!
Maybe after all of this, you’re still doubtful. Perhaps because your mom never even saw the first Mamma Mia? So buy her both for a DIY double-feature full of whimsy, mother-daughter love, and dapper older gentleman dad-dancing. Problem solved.
Kristy Puchko is the managing editor of Pajiba. You can follow her on Twitter.