Paul McGuire Grimes, author of Paul’s Trip to the Movies, gives us his review of Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again, and two movies you can stream at home.
MAMMA MIA: HERE WE GO AGAIN (theatrical release)
Sophie is days away from the grand reopening of her mother, Donna’s, resort in the lush Greek island of Kalokairi. It’s bittersweet knowing that her mother is no longer around to see the hard work that she put into it. Sam is the only one of Sophie’s three dads who can make the opening, and her husband, Sky, is also away on a business trip to New York. The film is part sequel and part prequel as we get to get to meet a young Donna who sets out after graduation to travel the world. After visiting Kalokairi, she falls in love with the place as well as the three young suitors who we know to be Sophie’s dads and starts to build the original resort that current-day Sophie is rebuilding to cherish her mother’s legacy.
-Starring: Amanda Seyfried, Lily James, Christine Baranski, Julie Walters, Cher, Andy Garcia, and Meryl Streep
-Much the first one, the sequel is a jukebox musical of ABBA music. There are a variety of new numbers for both the new and returning cast as well as some old favorites from the first one sprinkled back in.
-If you enjoyed the first movie, you’ll tap your toe and want to sing along with this one as the big group numbers are contagious. Much like the character of Donna, there’s a carefree and flirty feeling to this movie. It’s light-hearted escapism.
-A majority of the movie takes place in the flashback scenes with Young Donna. Lily James is a perfect casting choice to play a young Meryl Streep. She lights up the screen with her charm and energy and has a fantastic singing voice.
-As great as James is, the lack of Meryl Streep is noticeable. She appears in cameo form, but I wish the writing team had worked more of her in or utilized Amanda Seyfried more to stay in the current day narrative.
-Cher’s grand entrance as Sophie’s grandma fits the iconic star. It’s 100% pure Cher reminding you of how truly unique is. Her performance of “Fernando” is one of the best numbers in the movie. She really ought to come back to making more movies.
Is It Worth Your Trip to the Movies? ABBA. Sequins. Cher. You can’t go wrong.
RATING: 3 out of 5 TICKET STUBS
SET IT UP (streaming pick)
Harper and Charlie are two of the busiest assistants out there working round the clock for their bosses in the hustle and bustle of New York City. Harper’s boss, Kirsten, works as the head editor for an online sports magazine. Harper would eventually like to move up from assistant to being a writer under Kirsten’s leadership. Charlie’s boss, Rick, is the quintessential high-powered businessman who can schmooze his way into any deal or relationship he wants to be a part of. Harper and Charlie are sick of their long hours which have affected their lives and relationships as all of their attention is given their bosses. All four of them work in the same building and a late night encounter between Harper and Charlie is the spark that initiates their plan of attack. Their meet-cute snowballs into a joint idea to create a meet-cute for Kirsten and Rick leading to a hot and steamy relationship. This would in turn lighten up their schedules a bit. Harper and Charlie’s risky decision to set up their bosses slowly makes them realize that they may just be perfect for each other as well.
-Starring: Zoey Deutch, Glen Powell, Lucy Liu, Taye Diggs, Tituss Burgess, Pete Davidson
-Available exclusively through Netflix as it’s one of their original films.
-Deutch and Powell may not be household names yet, but you’ve seen them in a variety of movies. They have fantastic chemistry together. Even though the main plot isn’t about them hooking up, you’re still rooting for that to happen by the end.
-Inspired by classic Nora Ephron rom-comes like When Harry Met Sally as well as Cyrano de Bergerac and The Parent Trap, which are directly referenced in the script.
-Fully embraces rom-com tropes like the crowded New York setting, the grand gestures, the back and forth banter between the main characters, and the “other girl” in the situation. The movie fully earns these cutesy moments without turning into a Hallmark movie of the week.
-Lovely, feel good story where you actually enjoy all of the main characters which is hard to come by in the traditional romantic comedy genre of late.
A QUIET PLACE (streaming pick)
Funnyman John Krasinski is shaking things up by turning his focus to the horror genre by directing, co-writing, and starring in A Quiet Place. Krasinski and real-life wife Emily Blunt play married couple Lee and Evelyn. Along with their three children, they are some of the only remaining survivors after a mysterious force has wiped out their small town. The movie picks up on Day 89 as they head to find shelter making as little noise as possible. We learn through an extremely shocking moment that noise attracts these ravenous creatures that pop up out of the woods killing everything in sight. The story jumps ahead to Day 472. Evelyn is now pregnant, and the family is living in a semi-secure house where Lee has set up security cameras, a fallout bunker, and a lighting system to aid in their family alerts without relying on noise. Lee and Evelyn may have a safe space, but the same can’t be said for the other villagers in hiding who start to crack as the days and pressure to stay quiet become too much to handle.
-Starring: John Krasinski, Emily Blunt, Millicent Simmonds, Noah Jupe (Wonder).
-Simmonds is a deaf actress and is proving to be a phenomenal young performer as we see here and in last year’s Wonderstruck. There are times when the movie goes completely silent offering what it must be like for her character in these moments not knowing when/if the creature may be behind her.
-Krasinski is best known for being a comedic actor on The Office. Much like Jordan Peele did with Get Out, he’s successfully branches out to the horror genre for his third outing as a director.
-Krasinski creates so much tension despite the minimal dialogue. The intentionally quiet atmosphere naturally leaves you on the edge of their seat the entire time waiting for a loud clatter, a creaky floorboard, or something to go bump in the night. There is a huge “jump scare” early on that is startling and warns you of what might be out there.
-The desperation to be as quiet as possible seemed to permeate in the audience. You can feel people wanting to scream but trying to keep it in as to not conjure the demon creatures in real life.
-It’s 90 minutes and moves at a brisk pace. There’s never a dull moment as it’s completely nerve-wracking and unpredictable. None of the scare tactics feel like cheap shots. Krasinski and his team of writers keep this as naturalistic as possible as to what could happen to this family and the survival skills they need to carry out.
-Feels like Early M. Night Shyamalan meets Alien