When you can’t decide whether or not to do a prequel or a sequel, you get a movie like this. It’s not bad for what it is, and it is definitely entertaining, but I would wait to rent it from redbox before rushing to the closest movie theater to watch this particular film. The ABBA music is done well, the setting is still beautiful, and the characters are fun, but it doesn’t offer much more than what we already knew from the first movie about any of our favorite characters.
The flashbacks of Donna in 1979, now played by Lily James, we see the origin story of how Donna meets all of Sophie’s potential fathers, finds her way to kalokairi, and how she finds a new kind of love as she becomes Sophie’s mother. While the story is enjoyable, the acting itself isn’t necessarily spot on. Lily James made a huge risk in attempting to fill Meryl Streep’s shoes, and while to say she fell flat would be an extreme, she definitely had room for improvement.
The story also doesn’t at all fit the one told in the original movie. In the second song of Mamma Mia which is titled “Honey, Honey.” Sophie reads from her mother’s diary and tells how Donna first met Sam who took her to kalokairi, then Bill, and then Harry. In this movie, Donna meets Harry in Paris, then Bill takes her to Kalokairi, and she meets Sam on the island. Now, only a real stickler would point this out, but I am indeed a stickler for details like this. (Harry never even stepped foot on Kalokairi in this movie!) There also isn’t any real major antagonist in this movie, so there’s nothing serious to overcome and not much character development from anybody.
However, while we do still see a cameo from the late Donna’s ghost played by Meryl Streep, we do get a few new big stars who come to sing into our hearts with this movie. Of course, we have Cher as Donna’s mother, singing one of the most beautiful covers of “Fernando” I’ve ever heard. We also have Andy Garcia playing the previously mentioned Fernando that Cher serenades to. We even get a cameo from Jonathan Goldsmith, aka The Most Interesting Man In the World!
We get to see how the characters deal with life now that Donna has passed away, and enjoy their enjoyment at Sophie’s discovering that she herself is now pregnant as she reopens her mother’s hotel on Kalokairi. The music is still great, the theme is still fun, and it is definitely worth a watch for renting from Redbox or your local library! Just not for twelve dollars plus gas.