What better way to spend a lazy Sunday afternoon than to escape into a musical? Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again is set in an idealized world of bright colors, music, choreography and kindness. And in this alternate universe young and old play nice, care about each other sing and dance in some over-the-top costumes, where the characters reminisce even as they move forward in their glossy lives.
In this sequel, we’re still on the Greek island of Kalokairi. Sophie is grown up, in love (with one guy) and she transformed her home into a high-end hotel. It’s time for the grand opening, with family and media invited.
In this perfect fantasy all three of her dads adore her and are close friends with each other. Sophie’s mother Donna’s story is told in flashbacks, with younger actors playing Donna, dads and friends.
But what made me happiest was that even at middle age, each is recognized as fully human, capable of humor and love (or at least, flirting). Nobody sits out the dance; everybody is integral.
Who can resist a cheerful story featuring some of the happy music we grew up with? Bonus points for the cute acrobatics as well as its silly humor: the border guard’s comments on visitors’ passport haircuts, papa Sam’s eye color comment, papa Harry’s inability to keep a secret.
“My soulmate may actually be carbs,” says Rosie, one of Donna’s two lifelong friends. Rosie and Tanya have been de-facto aunts to Sophie. All hail the aunties! We don’t have to hide in the corner, appearing only to make sure everybody has eaten. Oh yeah, we can sing and dance too.
Another recent movie, The Book Club, had four midlife women reading Fifty Shades of Grey and realizing romantic possibilities. It’s encouraging to see us on the big screen, living our imaginary best lives. The world is truly big enough for all of us!
(Caveat: In both movies the stories are told through the experiences of upper-middle class or wealthy people. Possibilities are greater for a demographic who is not worried about paying bills and can afford to fly around the world.)
I enjoyed both movies. The world is a stressful place that can be made better if more people allowed themselves the temporary escape that books and movies give us. For that briefest of time, you’re someplace else in a big dark room with your buddy and a bunch of strangers.
I’ll have more of that please, with a plate of baklava.