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.