You don’t need to see the first one in order for this film to make any kind of sense! Laura had seen the first one so she got the solitary reference, but it’s not truly necessary for any major portion of this film.
Emma Thompson is incredibly talented (produces, writes and stars in both films). The film also has a really amazing ensemble cast including Maggie Gyllenhaal, Ewan McGregor, Maggie Smith, Rhys Ifans, Bill Bailey and Ralph Fiennes! And the kids aren’t bad either! Well I mean, they are “bad” but they’re not bad actors. You know what I mean.
Recently noticed an article/cover story from some magazine talking about Maggie and Emma being best friends so I think it’s really cute/quaint that they’re in this movie together.