Lily James Amanda Seyfried Meryl Streep Dominic Cooper Pierce Brosnan Stellan Skarsgard
Christine Baranski Colin Firth Cher Julie Walters Jeremy Irvine Andy Garcia
I think the best things about this film are ABBA’s songs from the first Mamma Mia and Meryl Streep’s reprise at the end. Oh, well, and yes, the local woman telling a young man where to get off after he “did a woman wrong” and then wanted to return to her arms. She is a lovable, wise character who makes you chuckle at her and cheer her on at the same time. Although Benny Andersson, a member of ABBA, and two colleagues, Anne Dudley and Bjorn Ulvaeus (also involved in the first production), supply most of the music here, it doesn’t have the draw the earlier rendition had. Part of the responsibility may lie with the director and co-writer, Ol Parker.
The filmmakers have valiantly tried to recapture the moods, atmosphere, and humor of the first Mamma Mia! (2008) and even 2016's La La Land, but never quite achieve the lyrical magic of those productions. Instead, I found it to be jarring in its disjointed cuts from one scene to the next without natural transitions; the songs appear to be inserted haphazardly, even though they’re clearly intended to wedge the viewer into an emotion of the moment. The dialog is unnatural and even vacuous at times, such as, “Nothing is that simple.” “Everything is, when you break it down.” Everything: really? People fall in love instantaneously, and sometimes when they break up, the songs reflect a much deeper relationship than could possibly have occurred.
The story is a continuation of the first Mamma Mia! Donna (Streep) has died, and her daughter Sophie (James, Seyfried) wants to refurbish Donna’s villa and stage a party that will honor her mother. She is still grieving her mother’s passing, and invites her three fathers (Brosnan, Skarsgard, Firth) and Donna’s closest friends (Baranski, Walters) to come to the villa on a Greek island for the special occasion. Sophie is engaged to Sky (Cooper), whose business has stationed him in New York, leading them to the decision to suspend their engagement. The party is all set up, but in the interim, there will be a storm that damages the villa and other distractions, namely, Sophie’s becoming involved with various suitors ([her engagement to Sky (Cooper) has been suspended.] Somehow, even though Sophie goes on boat rides and long walks, she still manages to keep the villa intact, perhaps because of the efforts of one of her fathers, Sam (Brosnan).
At any rate, the party does take place, old acquaintances/loves are renewed, and a surprise guest (Cher) suddenly appears, with a touching rapprochement between her and Fernando (Garcia). In the end, Donna is duly honored, and everyone present feels gratified.
This is a musical without the exquisite blending of fantasy, reality, and art that some of its predecessors (e.g., La La Land) have achieved.