In the Dark: Here we go again - with love

The stars of Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again

‘Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again’

Starring: Lily James, Amanda Seyfried

Directed by: Ol Parker

Rated: PG-13

Here we go with the feel-good movie of the summer. It’s a sugary sequel to “Mamma Mia,” which managed to gross over $600 million world-wide in 2008. This second verse is poised to do it again with a lot of talent in front and behind the camera making it all come together for a definite chick flick pleaser.

Let’s not quibble, we know this is a “ladies only” kind of movie. As proof, I saw nary one male in a recent sold-out showing. But, hey, that’s cool, ladies. The guys just don’t want to be caught singing along to those great ABBA hits of the 80s. Me, I have no shame, it’s too hard not to at least hum along with the cast.

So how do you bring back all the characters for a sequel to a movie that was based on a Broadway musical? Quite cleverly as it turns out. All the characters—and some new ones—reunite for the grand opening of the hotel on the Greek island where the first movie took place. Now Donna’s daughter, Sophie (Amand Seyfried), is in charge helped by her hotel manager Fernando (hint, hint) played by Andy Garcia.

Sky (Dominic Cooper), her husband, is off in the states learning the hotel business. But, Tanya (Christine Baranski) and Rosie (Julie Walters) arrive and begin to reminisce about the old days of Donna and the Dynamos.

This time jump gives the movie great chances to interweave more of ABBA’s hits and introduces the best thing about this movie — Lily James as the young Donna. James not only exudes charm and enthusiasm, she can also sing. The younger Tanya (Jessica Keenan Wynn) and Rosie (Alexa Davies) are just as charming, and all do resemble their older counterparts.

As young Donna graduates and makes her way across Europe to that beautiful Greek isle, this also gives the movie a chance to recount her meetings with the three men in her life — Harry (Hugh Skinner in the Colin Firth role), Bill (Josh Dylan in the Stellan Skarsgard role), and Sam (Jeremy Irvine playing the younger Pierce Brosnan) and, no judgment here, but no wonder Donna wasn’t really sure who Sophie’s dad was—as it turns out she was a bit of a free spirit, and that’s putting it politely.

Under the direction of Ol Parker (“The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”), this really comes to life, especially the song and dance numbers that range from just the trio to the entire cast getting involved. Parker films this like it was one giant party with a few transitional scenes thrown in. His energetic direction and creative camera moves come together to make you feel like you are right in the mix.

And, enough credit can’t be given to Michele Clapton for the costuming, which must use every shade of blue in the color palette. When she’s not busy matching them to the brilliant blue eyes of some of the characters, including both actors who play the young and old Bill, not to mention Seyfried’s baby blues, then Clapton is using the many shades of ocean blue to add a vibrancy to every scene. The challenge here is to also create the boho look for the younger characters and bring them all up to date in the present. James frolics in t-shirts, brightly colored gauzy maxi skirts and Frye boots in perfect harmony to her care-free spirit. Likewise, when Sophie’s grandmother, Ruby Sheridan (Cher) arrives for the hotel opening, she’s au currant in a couture sparkly top and wide-leg pants cinched at the waist. It’s only in the end of this movie that the sappy goes to sweet, and if your eyes don’t at least well up, then maybe this one isn’t for you. It’s a love letter to mothers and daughters that’s been coming for the entire movie, and a reason you may just want to go again.