Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again was everything I needed to see at this exact moment in my life.
Yes, really. …Spoilers ahead, party people.
But if you came here for a movie review, you can exit stage left. I’ll leave that to the Onion, who said it best:
“Mamma Mia!: Here We Go Again: A film that you can either enjoy for what it it is or slog through the rest of your life as the sort of killjoy who enjoys absolutely nothing in their miserable existence.”
To be honest though, it’s way more than just having a good time at the theater.
And yes, I know this movie is problematic. As a continuation from the first movie, it’s pitiful to me that Donna seemed to have an amazing, spontaneous life 20 years ago, only to be tired and miserable later in life until a man shows up again. Additionally, there’s a song in the sequel about kissing the teacher (albeit an awesome, energy-filled song). And, oh ya, this is a cast of pretty much all white people (albeit, as a prequel/sequel, I suppose they were beholden to characters they already created in the original).
These issues aside, we need to talk about why this movie is important. What’s the name of the game, if you will. ; )
I’ll admit that the sequel houses some ABBA B-sides I didn’t even know before I saw the movie, but they are carried out with such charm and zeal, it’s hard not to love them. And it’s not just me, downloads and streaming are skyrocketing right now for each an every one.
So what does it take for B-sides from the 70s and 80s to find new life? Well it certainly takes new blood.
Lily James in this movie is shimmering gold.
For those not in the know, she plays young Meryl Streep (Donna), graduating from college in Oxford and deciding to go find herself in Greece (with a pit stop in Paris, because why not!). She meets 3 lovely men along the way, all before becoming pregnant (with a baby we later meet as Amanda Seyfried). She does not know who the father is…hence the plot of the first Mamma Mia. Caught up? Kewl.
Here’s why this movie, and Lily’s portrayal of Donna left me absolutely shook:
- The wise things she says, all with a self-assured smile and charm for days. Best quote: “Life is short, the world is wide. I want to make some memories.” I know cheesy, but isn’t it true?
- Her character’s completely sincere way of speaking, where you can tell she’s just coming from a truth deep inside of her. Take this interaction with young Bill (a total playboy on a boat she meets at the pier) – she knows who she is, and she’s not slut shaming herself, because who the hell has time for that.
- Young Donna: We only just met.
Young Bill: And you’re not that kind of girl?
Young Donna: Absolutely not. Usually.
- Young Donna: We only just met.
- Being in a musical means life is happening fast, relationships are changing on a dime, and it’s all set to a great tune. And to that end, Donna’s character finds love and comfort in 3 men in a very short time period. It’s messy. But isn’t life really messy? Sometimes when it rains, it pours, and you can’t control any of it.
- Her spontaneity – it’s something I always aspired to as a younger woman, but couldn’t relate to. How could someone just pick up their life, change their plans in any given second, go from one guy to the next? But seeing this movie at this stage in my life, I get it. I related more to Donna than anyone else in the film…
So why is that?
Why did this movie hit so close to home? Like in my home. Like right here in my house.
It’s because I finally accepted living in the gray.
It’s because I’ve accepted that life isn’t black and white. It’s not crystal clear. It’s a mysterious rollercoaster ride…one that goes upside down, has a couple big drops, and you must be this tall to ride.
I would have adored this movie 10 years ago. But for the wrong reasons. I would have seen Donna’s behavior as wild and crazy and overly lovelorn.
Now, wiser in my years. With therapy and life coaching ,and just plain life experience under my belt, I see it completely differently.
Donna falling in and out of love with multiple men. That’s brave.
Do you know what it takes to put your heart out on the line all the time? I do, and I can tell you that it takes courage, and self esteem, and a mad-eyed willingness to potentially get hurt again and again. Because I know it’s all a journey.
Donna being drawn to a place that calls her soul. That’s brave.
Most of us wouldn’t admit it if somewhere besides home really called out to us. Sent shivers down our spine with possibility and opportunity. We weigh the pros and cons before moving, wait for the job offer, and decide if the weather could fit our lifestyles. Not saying that’s wrong, but is it really brave? No.
And, Donna being her own person 100% of the time. That’s brave.
I’m currently reading Brené Brown’s Braving the Wilderness. And the wilderness is a tricky thing. It’s lonely. Donna, despite being surrounded by friends and lovers at seemingly all times, is constantly pushing herself into the wilderness.
She’s the person who has the “zany” idea. She refuses to be one thing or another. She is multi-faceted AF. Lead singer in a girl group? Check. Oxford graduate? Check. Budding business owner? Check.
In the movie, it is said about Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) “It takes three great men to create such a woman.” And that might be true. But, honestly, I’m not sure one lover could have ever been enough to define Donna’s experience during this time of her life. She is such a powerhouse of a human being, and she does things a little differently.
These are the things you’re not supposed to say, I know.
But sometimes you need many different things and people to cultivate the happiness you desire. Whether it’s a variety of friends, all there for you in unique ways. Or maybe you need multiple romantic partners to handle the energy you’re putting out in the world. Or maybe, you need 7 different hobbies and a move to feel fulfilled.
Whatever it is, don’t do it because you saw it in movie. Do it because it gets you up in the morning. The way listening to the Mamma Mia 2 soundtrack 45 times in the last 3 days has made me unbelievably happy (and yes, I only saw it 3 days ago).
And if all of this hasn’t convinced you to take a chance on me…and this movie. Let me remind you that Christine Baranski is a national treasure. Classy, well-dressed, and dripping in sass.
“Be still my beating vagina.” – Tanya
No context. Just a great quote from Christine in the movie.
Now, go enjoy the gray.
Maybe see this movie too.