“Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again” Is the Mommiest Movie of the Summer

Warning: There are spoilers ahead for the film Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again

Is Mamma Mia! building a massive, multi-dimensional cinematic movie universe à la Marvel? I’m pretty sure the answer is YES. There is, after all, a post-credits scene at the end of Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, or as I like to call it, Mommi Mia! 2. The movie takes place in two interwoven timelines! There are ghosts! Cher’s last-minute entrance in the narrative is played exactly like a supervillain reveal! The Mamma Mia! Cinematic Universe is the new Marvel Cinematic Universe—spread the word.

This absolutely bonkers prequel-sequel is nothing short of a cinematic masterpiece, much like its first installment. The line “a storm is coming” is uttered dramatically not once but TWICE! Back-to-back! By two different characters in two different timelines! And then a storm does come! And Lily James, playing a young Meryl Streep, has to SAVE A HORSE in the storm! A horse that she later lets her tears gently fall onto after having her heartbroken by a lying, cheating man.

If someone were to tell me that in order to cast the younger versions of the original cast for this movie, a special machine was built that cloned their DNA and produced actual younger versions of them, I would believe you. The actress tapped to play Young Christine Baranski embodies her so accurately that it’s almost disturbing. And then during the credits sequence, when the younger characters encounter the older versions of themselves as they all sing “Super Trouper” together like one big happy musical family, Young Christine Baranski and Christine Baranski… flirt with each other? It somehow made me gayer.

Speaking of family: Is the Mamma Mia! Cinematic Universe propaganda in favor of queer family structures? Once again, I’m pretty sure the answer is YES. Amanda Seyfried has essentially been raised by Meryl Streep, three bisexual dads, and two bisexual aunts who are married to each other but enjoy lots of dalliances on the side. Seriously, Christine Baranski and Julie Walters wear matching kaftans for a good portion of this movie. They are wives, and you cannot convince me otherwise.

Donna, the overalls-wearing goddess played by Meryl Streep and Lily James, is most certainly bisexual. Sure, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again is all about how she met the three men who could all be her daughter’s father, but pls do not overlook the brief yet powerful moment when Young Donna sees two girls making out passionately in the streets of France and gives them the knowing/affirming/yearing queer smile of approval. If she had run into a gorgeous long-haired butch with a boat instead of Bill, she would have been just as quick to hitch a ride to the island of her dreams, and then maybe her daughter would have two dads and a mom. (When the movies are rebooted in ten years, call me, Hollywood!)

Maybe you think you are not a musical person and therefore Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again doesn’t seem particularly appealing to you. It has, I promise, a lot more going for it. Like fashion. After all, I’m calling it Mommi Mia! 2 in my head and heart for a reason: It’s an excellent visual catalogue for this year’s hottest Mommi trends. Patterned jumpsuits, loose clothes ideal for frolicking on a Greek island, too many rings, and overalls abound. At one point, Amanda Seyfried wears a denim jumpsuit with a knitted poncho? I was confused and aroused all at once, which really is exactly what it feels like to watch Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again.

(Have I mentioned I saw this movie in an empty movie theater where the only other people present were a real live Mommi and her two twin daughters? This both enhanced the experience but also made me sad, because every single showing of Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again should be sold out.)

Other things to enjoy about Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again: Miscellaneous subplots that really have nothing to do with anything but hey Cher’s here so shut up and listen, bitch!; Christine Baranski saying her only true soulmate is wine (Mommi); a childbirth sequence set to song; Ghost Meryl Streep; Lily James doing things; the photo of Cher and Meryl Streep fully kissing on the red carpet.

All of this is to say that I have been in a very dark place in my life this summer, and while Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again certainly didn’t cure me, it did drop me into a magical world for a couple hours that made me feel very alive and ready to break out into song and dance. It’s a world where running into exes isn’t really that bad and in fact leads to singing and rekindled romance. It’s a world where everyone just wants to make out with everyone all the time. It’s a world where ABBA lyrics are treated as sacred, as they should be. And it’s a world where Meryl Streep is dead and everyone is super sad about it but also kind of living their best lives and doing choreography on boats. I can’t wait for the next chapter of the Mamma Mia! Cinematic Universe.

Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya is a Brooklyn-based writer, television critic, and comedian who spends most of her time over-analyzing queer subtext on television, singing "Take Me Or Leave Me" in public places, and assembling cheese platters. She has a cat named after Piper Halliwell from Charmed, and her go-to karaoke song is "Everywhere" by Michelle Branch. Her writing can also be found at The A.V. Club and The Hollywood Reporter, and she wrote the webseries Sidetrack. You can catch her screaming in all-caps about Kalinda Sharma, Jennifer Lopez, and oysters on Twitter and Instagram.

Kayla has written 129 articles for us.

20 Comments

  1. K A Y L A

    “Young Christine Baranski and Christine Baranski… flirt with each other? It somehow made me gayer.”

    “Amanda Seyfried wears a denim jumpsuit with a knitted poncho? I was confused and aroused all at once, which really is exactly what it feels like to watch Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again.”

    “And it’s a world where Meryl Streep is dead and everyone is super sad about it but also kind of living their best lives and doing choreography on boats.”

    this entire review has given me life I didn’t even know I needed.

  2. i’ve long maintained that the original mamma mia is the story of how the six members of a former poly relationship reunite and reconnect at their daughter’s almost wedding

    proof: i’m bi and i want it to happen

  3. I’m so delighted by the fact that so many people who don’t normally talk about Cher as much as me have been talking about Cher as much as me over the past week! LONG MAY IT CONTINUE. Let’s also note that Cher and Meryl previously worked together on 1983’s “Silkwood,” in which Cher played Meryl’s lesbian BFF with an unrequited crush. THAT. RED. CARPET. PHOTO. KILLED ME. ALL THE WAY.

  4. Can we talk about the extreme cuteness of young Rosie? I crushed so hard. And then Lily James was being all charming and adorable, and I ended up in love with young Rosie, young Donna, young Harry, and Sky all at once. And I’ve shamelessly been playing the songs all week. Perfect summer everything, really.

  5. Christine Baranski in this movie was the fucking bomb, what an inspiration. You’re right that her younger version was uncannily similar(LY AWESOME).

    Also I was convinced that the Parisian couple kissing were lesbians too so I elbowed my bestie and hissed LESBIANS. She just stared at me: I looked again and it was just a straight couple with a long-haired man. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news – Lily James was still wonderful!

  6. Are we going to talk about ‘When I Kissed the Teacher’ with all those pronouns and the Celia Imrie kiss?? What a glorious start to the film, I was having so much fun I even forgave it the rly weird Oxbridge butchering

  7. I went to see this film this afternoon with my bestie and the opening number with Celia Imrie had me all pop-eyed in surprise!

    And I also have to mention that in the adverts before the film, there was a Volvo car ad with all different families including a male gay couple and a female gay couple, as well as a mixed race couple and my bestie said that it’s because Sweden is such a progressive country (she’s straight, but is one of the very few who knows that I am bi)

  8. Are you kidding me? When Young Donna sings ABBA’s song from their Arrival album called “When I Kissed the Teacher,” a song about a young female student’s crush on her MALE teacher, the lyrics have been changed to reflect her FEMALE teacher! It was absolutely amazing.

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