“To tell you the truth,” says Sam (Pierce Brosnan), “I don’t think I can face it.” “Neither can I,” says Sophie (Amanda Seyfried). “It will get better,” says Sam. “Yes,” Sophie says, “but not quite yet.” Five years after events of 2008’s “Mama Mia,” Sophie prepares to reopen her mother’s hotel on Kolokairi, an idyllic Greek island. Named Hotel Bella Donna, it will honor her mother, Donna Sheridan (Meryl Streep), now deceased. Missing her, Sophie and Sam, an old friend of Donna’s, are weepy. That’s the setup for “Mama Mia! Here We Go Again” and its two stories: one, a sequel, Sophie’s grand reopening of her mother’s hotel and, two, a prequel, Donna’s three romantic encounters on Kolokairi 25 years earlier.
How did Donna meet Sam, Harry and Bill years ago? Which one is Sophie’s father? Is “Mama Mia 2” as entertaining as its original? See “MM! HWGA” for answers to some — but not all — of these questions.
Returning for “Mama Mia 2” are Amanda Seyfried as Donna’s daughter, Sophie, Dominic Cooper as Sky, Sophie’s husband, and Christine Baranski and Julie Walters as Tanya and Rosie, friends and, with Donna, members of the singing “Dynamos.” Pierce Brosnan (he sings again), Colin Firth and Stellan Skarsgard return as Donna’s old boyfriends, Sam, Harry and Bill. New this time are Lily James, a standout as free spirit, flower-child Donna and, as young Tanya and Rosie, Jessica Keenan Wynn and Alexa Davies. Jeremy Irvine, Hugh Skinner and Josh Dylan are Sam, Harry and Bill, young Donna’s boyfriends.
Meryl Streep and Cher star in the film’s finale as beloved Donna Sheridan and her Las Vegas show-business mother, Ruby Sheridan. Cher’s grand entrance by helicopter, platinum hair and performance of ABBA’s “Fernando” stop the show. But in “MM2,” everybody sings and dances.
“Mama Mia! Here We Go Again” is non-stop musical entertainment. Written and directed by Ol Parker, it’s a smarter film than the original. Parker uses ABBA’s infectious, wall-to-wall music not only to entertain, but also to help advance plotlines, develop characters and reveal feelings. Careful cinematography by Robert D. Yeoman and film editing help us follow the interwoven parallel narratives, prequel and sequel, to touching final sequences in which Donna gives birth to Sophie and, 25 years later, Sophie and Sky baptize their first child.
Rated PG-13 for suggestive material, “Mama Mia! Here We Go Again” runs 120 minutes. A bit long, but lots of fun. Stay through the credits for a final joke.
See “Here We Go Again,”
“Mama Mia!” sequel;
ABBA’s greatest hits and,
Bonus! It’s a prequel.