Major spoilers for Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again below. Read at your own risk.
I hope this doesn’t come across as a hyperbole, but Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again is the best film ever made. It’s a follow-up to 2008’s Mamma Mia!, a musical about trying to figure out which of three dudes knocked up Donna (Meryl Streep). The new film, which is both the sequel and the prequel, tells the story of how Donna traveled around Europe when she was young, and what led to her musically sleep with all three of the men in the first place.
The first time I saw this movie was at a press screening weeks before it was released. I fell in love with the film’s beachy waves, perfect appearance by Cher, and Christine Baranski’s legs. I couldn’t stop talking about it; the soundtrack played in my head on a loop. But I wondered, was my love of the film just the anticipation of finally seeing it? Would it last if I saw it again? What if I spent a week watching it every day?
As it turns out, seeing Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again every day for a entire week only made me love it all the more. I got to fixate on different plot points, notice new things, and have seven days of a much needed non-pharmaceutical serotonin hit. Even the existential spiral the repeated viewings sent me on was worth it. Here, a look at my week of Mamma Mia!:
Day One: Andy García Is Hot
I’d always known Andy García was a handsome man, but I never really realized just how attracted I was to him until this viewing. The second he steps out of his hotel manager truck to meet Tanya (Christine Baranski) and Rosie (Julie Walters), delicately takes their hands, and whispers seductive yet bizarre greetings — he comments on Tanya’s beauty and tells Rosie she is wise “like a flamingo” — I melted in my seat. And the tortured passion with which he looks at Cher when he discovers she is his long-lost love Ruby? My main note for the evening asks,“Is it cheating if it’s Andy García?”
Day Two: Concerns About the Beachy Waves
One of the main reasons you can tell that Amanda Seyfried (Sophie) and Lily James (Young Donna, a.k.a. a younger version of Meryl Streep) are related in the film is because they all have fantastic beachy waves. Only, upon examination, it turns out not all of the waves are equal. On this viewing, I became fixated on the differences between their curls. Lily’s appear to be natural — there are scenes where you even see a bit of frizz, presumably because that’s what happens when you’re on a Greek island. But Amanda’s are too perfect; the waves all hit at the exact same spots, and seem in my estimation to be the very size of curling irons. So I whipped out my phone (sorry, fellow moviegoers) and went to Amanda’s Instagram. That’s where I realized Amanda’s bouncy waves are simply movie magic — her hair is not that wavy naturally. But I’m pretty sure Meryl Streep is wearing a wig when she reappears as a ghost, so I don’t blame her at all.
Day Three: New Revelations About the Movie
While my last two screenings were spent primarily focused on superficial aspects, this time around, I decided to focus more on details of the plot I may have missed. I realized:
• Young Tanya (Jessica Keenan Wynn) tends to stick with a purple color scheme, while Young Rosie (Alexa Davies) tends to favor blues. When they arrive in Greece, Young Tanya has purple suitcases and a purple outfit; Young Rosie has blue suitcases and a blue outfit. Later, when they arrive in Greece as older women, the characters suitcases and outfits reflect the same color preferences.
• Tanya and Rosie have a running bit throughout the film: They say “bolster, bolster” under their breaths when in need of support.
• Alexio (the same fisherman that Young Donna and Young Bill help break up a wedding) is one of the fishermen dancing at the front of the boat during “Dancing Queen.”
And perhaps most importantly:
• Sophie’s son is named Donnie — after Donna, her late mother. I realized this when Bill and Harry are talking about whether the baby inherited Harry’s ears. Bill says, “The boy?” and Harry replies, “Donnie, that’s right.” Awwwww.
Day Four: What Am I Doing With My Life?
There’s a part of me that’s always wondered what my life would be like if I sold all my belongings and traveled the world. Mamma Mia! gives me a pretty good idea: Maybe I’d suddenly be back in my early 20s again and travel Europe while doing musical numbers with a bunch of dudes, and then I’d land in Greece. Maybe I’d meet a nice woman who lets me stay in her farmhouse for free because I’m kind to her horse. Maybe I’d suddenly discover that I can sing and then I’d spend my nights serenading drunk patrons at a Greek bar.
After four straight viewings of this film, the allure of giving up my New York City life was getting even stronger. I whipped out my phone and looked up tickets to Greece, just to see if I could even afford to travel there. But then I remembered that I forgot to apply for a U.S. passport after naturalizing from Canada in January, so I put that dream on hold until I at least have proper documentation.
Day Five: I Asked a French Person About “Waterloo”
I’d already come to terms with (and loved) the absurdity of the “Waterloo” Parisian seduction sequence, during which Young Harry begs Young Donna to take his virginity through song. But on my fifth consecutive viewing, I brought along a French-American friend for some much-needed analysis. As the pair danced on top of tables, fought with baguettes, re-created the famed “Napoleon Crossing the Alps” painting, and had their heads served on platters, I asked her if this is what happens in Paris. “No. All the waiters need to go home and change, but I love the acrobatics,” she told me. Case closed, I guess.
Day Six: I Solved Mamma Mia!
The entire plot of the first Mamma Mia! film is that no one has any idea who Sophie’s dad is, and the second film follows Young Donna as she (offscreen) has sex all three possibilities. Well, I’m pleased to say, I figured out who the real dad actually is: Bill (Stellan Skarsgård). I’m not basing this on fact — the movie is intentionally vague — but instead, I’m relying purely on the days I’ve spent staring at Amanda Seyfried’s hair. There’s absolutely no way a blonde and a brunette could produce such a blonde, in my opinion; she must be the child of two blondes. That rules out the brown-haired men, Harry and Sam (Colin Firth and Pierce Brosnan, respectively), which means the dad has to be the only blonde one of the group, Bill. I did it!
Also, it turns out Harry comes from money. I assume he helped Sophie out financially with the hotel remodeling.
Day Seven: I’m Not Ready for This to End, and Andy García is Probably Sophie’s Grandpa
I showed up to my seventh (or technically, eighth) viewing of Mamma Mia! feeling as if I were actually becoming Mamma Mia!. I attended the screening with two of my best friends (like the film’s girl group, Donna and the Dynamos!), my hair was frizzy because of the humidity (like Lily’s beachy waves in the film!), and it was raining (just like in the movie!). But most important, I figured out that Andy García’s character Fernando Cienfuegos has to be Sophie’s grandfather.
When Fernando spots Cher, he shouts out “Mexico! 1959!” which gives us the date of their love affair. And when the movie opens, Donna is graduating from Oxford in 1979. If she were conceived and born in 1959, it could be plausible that she was only 19 or 20 by then (maybe she graduated early?). Plus, she said her dad was never in the picture. It’s completely possible that Andy García is her father.
But after figuring out this amazing mystery that, erm, Andy García himself alluded to, I’m not even slightly sick of this movie yet. I’ve left each viewing feeling absolutely joyful and humming ABBA tunes — I don’t want to let go of this daily sensation of pure happiness. Perhaps I need to see the film one or several more times to really be sure of Donna’s paternity?