Meaghan Kirby
Updated July 23, 2018 7:52 am
Universal Pictures

Just like the first film, Mamma Mia!: Here We Go Again is a scenic, dizzying adventure through fictional Greek islands to the music of ABBA. However, there’s one major cloud hanging over the film: Donna (Meryl Streep) is dead. Yes, our beloved Donna Sheridan is dead, having died just under a year before the sequel takes place. As everyone in the present timeline continues to mourn their beloved mother/wife/best friend/mother of their child, the movie takes us back in time — in Godfather II prequel-sequel fashion — to Young Donna’s adventures through Paris and Greece after graduating college and her trysts with each of Sophie’s potential fathers.

But while it’s pretty devastating that Donna is dead — and Meryl Streep’s absence throughout most of the film leaves a deliberate void — the film is still full of pretty, tan people with perfect beachy waves singing and dancing along to the best of ABBA b-sides, as well as a few key reprisals from the first film.

Of course, if wouldn’t be Mamma Mia! if it wasn’t chock-full of wild, nonsensical subplots and revelations. Here are just a few of the most bonkers moments from Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again.

1For starters, the film’s entire timeline is a bit wonky — but it doesn’t even matter!

What is time when you’re living your best life singing ABBA on a fictional Greek island? It’s been 10 years since the release of Mamma Mia! but thanks to passing comments from Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) and Bill (Stellan Skarsgård) — she’s 25, while he’s, ahem, “a man in his fifties” — it seems the sequel takes place just five years after the first film. Additionally, the film makes it very clear that Donna graduates from college in 1979 before embarking on her adventure, with presumably, Sophie being born sometime in 1980.

This would mean the “present” in Mamma Mia!: Here We Go Again is likely sometime around 2005. Considering the first film gave zero indication when it took place but the original West End production began in 1999, this sort of makes sense? But honestly, we’re not here to parse through messy timelines — this isn’t an AP exam. We’re here to bask in the campiness of Mamma Mia! and sing along to some ABBA.

2Donna and the Dynamos hijack their graduation and throw a concert

To kick off the movie, the trio liven up their stuffy Oxford graduation with a rousing rendition of “When I Kissed a Teacher,”which involves abandoning the ceremony, parading through the English countryside on bikes, and ending with a waterfront concert. The performance leaves all of us absolutely shook.

3That wild “Waterloo” dance number

My dream in life has been for “Waterloo” to get the Napoleonic treatment it deserves. Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again delivered that with Young Harry (Hugh Skinner) essentially propositioning Young Donna for sex, via song, at a French Revolution-themed restaurant. Everything about this fully choreographed musical number is wild and absolutely delightful. Hugh Skinner should play awkward young Colin Firth in every movie going forward.

4Young Bill’s so, so, so charming first attempt at seducing Young Donna is interrupted by the purest love story.

At the very moment Young Bill (Josh Dylan) and Young Donna finish their duet to “Why Did It Have To Be Me?” — an underrated ABBA bop — they’re interrupted by stranded fisherman Alexio, desperate to prevent his love, Apollonia, from marrying some *other* guy. Naturally Donna and Bill (somewhat reluctantly) intervene and save true love. In true Mamma Mia! fashion, Bill and Harry (Colin Firth), having abandoned their commitments – Bill’s Greatest Swede Ever Award ceremony and Harry’s massive contract in Japan — in favor of their joint daughter, run into Alexio 25 years later as they struggle to get to Kalokairi from the mainland of Greece. The ever grateful Alexio and his fisherman friends give the pair and Sky (Dominic Cooper) a lift to Kalokairi in the elaborate “Dancing Queen” number.

5“Dancing Queen” dockside dance party.

Because everyone’s (rightfully) sad about Donna being dead, the present timeline is a *little* bit of a downer, especially after the Hotel Bella Donna’s grand re-opening party is ruined by a storm — as sensed by the wildly mysterious and sad Señor Cienfuegos (Andy Garciá). Also, it seem that without Donna, nobody remembers how to dance and have a good party. Even the arrival of Tanya (Christine Baranski) and Rosie (Julie Walters) can’t seem to truly lift Sophie and Sam’s (Pierce Brosnan) spirits. It’s all a bit Footloose on Kalokairi…until Bill, Harry, and their fisherman friends turn up, bumping to “Dancing Queen.”

Suddenly, everyone’s singing and dancing like:

It’s such a fun homage to the first movie…and they didn’t even need Kevin Bacon!

6Everything relating to Lazaros and his band.

Young Donna’s exploits on Kalokairi sees her get acquainted with Sofia — who may or may not be related to Bill — who owns the old goat house Donna has been living in on the island. However, Sofia has a wild son Lazaros, who bought a bar because no establishment on the island would let his band perform. Real-life Greek artist Panos Mouzourakis milks every ounce of screen time, making Lazaros one of the most bizarre characters to bounce in and out of the movie.

In addition to providing weird comic relief, Lazaros does serve a *bit* of a larger purpose, giving Donna her big break as she serenades Young Sam (Jeremy Irvine) with “Andente, Andente” — who then naturally falls in love with her. Then, post-breakup with Sam, Donna and the Dynamos perform “Mamma Mia” at Lazaro’s bar, where Donna *just happens* to fall into Young Bill’s arms. Just call Lazaros cupid!

7Cher’s spectacular arrival…and the bonkers revelation that she’s the love of Andy Garciá’s life.

Full disclosure, I have seen this movie twice — haters can GTFOand both times, my theater has burst into applause when Cher appears on-screen during the final 25 minutes of the movie. Cher arrives on Kalokairi just in time to meet her granddaughter Sophie, learn Sky and Sophie are going to have a child – rendering her a great-grandmother — AND reunite with her lost love. Andy Garciá’s sole role as, ahem, Señor Fernando Cienfuegos, is to be a thirst trap and the love of Cher’s life — and he not only knows this, he wholeheartedly embraces it.

Yes, they created his character just so Cher could shout his name from across the gorgeous Greek terrace and sing “Fernando.” Señor Cienfuegos mopes (and manages Sophie’s hotel) the entire film until Cher — who is going by “Ruby” but is still very much Cher — arrives and suddenly, his whole world has been Cher-ified. Garciá knows well enough lend his voice in a very small supporting role as Cher dominates “Fernando,” and is glorious. Seriously, there were (rightfully) fireworks. A Golden Globe nomination for Cher!

8Andy Garciá might be Meryl Streep’s DAD?

In a movie franchise riddled with parental drama, it only makes sense that the sequel features another parental revelation. It’s never explicitly stated that sad Señor Cienfuegos is Donna’s long-absent dad, however it seems to be implied and we’re accepting it as fact.

10Andy Garciá has a secretly sad brother and he’s The Most Interesting Man in the World.

The love of Tanya’s life may be Chardonnay, but she really just wants a man, especially after losing out on Señor Cienfuegos to Cher. Luckily, Señor Cienfuegos strolls up to what may or may not be his great-grandson’s christening with Cher and his very sad brother, played by Jonathan Goldsmith, aka former Dos Equis “Most Interesting Man in the World.”

This guy:

He’s sad, single, and Tanya’s very much ready to lend him a helping hand. WHAT!

11Ghost Donna appears!

Meryl Streep isn’t even in 98% of the movie, yet her presence is so felt during the whole movie that I’m still going submit her for a Golden Globe for Lead Actress in a Musical or Comedy. When she finally pops up in ~ghost~ form at her Grandson’s christening, singing “My Love, My Life” with her younger self and daughter, there should not be a dry in the movie theater. The scene takes all the looming sadness throughout the film and bursts it one moving ballad.

12 The lycra-clad cast during the “Super Trouper” finale

The plot of the movie ends with Ghost Donna and Sophie’s sad song, which is a pretty devastating way to end a fun dance party, right? Luckily, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again has *one* last song left in it: a show-stopping performance of “Super Trouper” led by Cher. After ending Mamma Mia! with a full lycra cast performance of “Waterloo” they couldn’t just not do it again. Once again featuring full lycra, the “Super Trouper” sees a (*sobs*) Donna and the Dynamos reunion, the “legacy” cast dancing with their younger counterparts, and everyone living their best lives.

12Harry’s missed connection!

If you stayed through the end credits, you’ll have learned that the customs guy has been in love with Harry the entire time! In a hilarious cut scene, he sings a few bars of “Take a Chance on Me” before breaking. He’s got one thing right though, Colin Firth has aged well, like wine…and cheese.