The idea of a sequel to Mamma Mia! made little conceptual sense. Would it be a sequel or a prequel? Would it re-use all of the ABBA greatest hits already used in the original, or dig deeper into the catalog. And the answer is: Yes. This funky follow-up alternates between two narratives, as Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) mourns her mother Donna (Meryl Streep) by turning her Greek villa into a hotel, and flashbacks show young Donna (Lily James) on the post-graduation adventure leading up to Sophie’s birth. The prequel material is the most engaging, as James and the other young versions of the principal cast throw themselves into their musical numbers. While key tunes make reappearances, the soundtrack mostly reaches for deeper cuts like “I Kissed the Teacher” and “Andante, Andante,” which prove less distracting than the way jukebox musicals try to wedge a Top 40 hit into a plot just so the audience can sing along. The general effervescence—and director Ol Parker avoiding a lot of Phyllida Lloyd’s clunky staging from the original—help make this one feel like more than a weird grasp at nostalgia.
Director: Ol Parker
Producer: Judy Craymer, Gary Goetzman, Benny Andersson, Björn Ulvaeus, Rita Wilson, Tom Hanks, Richard Curtis, Phyllida Lloyd and Nicky Kentish Barnes
Cast: Amanda Seyfried, Lily James, Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth, Stellan Skarsgård, Meryl Streep, Cher, Andy Garcia, Alexa Davies, Jessica Wynn, Josh Dylan, Jeremy Irvine, Hugh Skinner, Dominic Cooper, Julie Walters and Christine Baranski