Savannah Oakes’s review published on Letterboxd:
Let’s all be honest. There’s absolutely no reason for this movie to exist much like most sequels and prequels coming out but at least this is a series film of love and joy and delight.
We’re back with almost everyone at our favorite hotel in Greece. Sadly, Donna (Meryl Streep) has died and Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) has renovated the hotel, now named the Bella Donna, in her mother’s honor. Sophie and Sky (Dominic Cooper) are reopening it and the grand opening is in just a few days. Everyone is around to prepare and everyone is coming to town for the event… except Sky. You got that right folks, our doting lovers from the first film are having issues. Sky is in New York and has received a job offer and Sophie is in Greece trying to make things work.
However, the show must go on. As Sophie attempts to prepare for the grand opening with her manager Fernando (Andy Garcia), her surrogate aunts Rosie (Julie Walters) and Tanya (Christine Baranski) arrive and offer her comfort and advice as everything seems to get worse and worse. Even her 1/3 father and her mother’s husband, Sam (Pierce Brosnan) can only reassure her so much.
While Sophie walks around the new and improved Bella Donna, mourning her crumbling relationship with Sky, fretting over the hotel and grieving her mother the film splices back and forth between the trials and triumphs her mother went through when she came to the island the for the first time, met Sophie’s fathers and made the hotel her home.
Donna’s past is not something that necessarily needs rehashing in any way. We know what she went through and everything built up to what we saw in the first film. Everything led to Sophie but for Sophie right now, where she’s at in this film, she needs to feel close to her mother and reflecting on her mother’s experience is what brings her to a kind of peace.
Luckily for us, the flashbacks are the best parts of the movie. At the forefront you have the every delightful, and almost always underused, Lily James playing a young Meryl Streep. Those shoes don’t seem so big to fill almost the instant Lily James appears, especially with Young Rosie (Alexa Davies) and Tanya (Jessica Keenan Wynn). They dance and sing onto screen with “When I Kissed the Teacher”--an interesting choice to say the least, but a charming one.
As Donna realizes she wants to go exploring she heads to France where she meets Young Harry (Hugh Skinner) where we finally get a good rendition of “Waterloo.” Once Young Harry is one and done, Donna flees to the island. When she misses her boat she meets Young Bill (Josh Dylan) who takes her on his boat. When she finally arrives at the island she meets Young Sam (Jeremy Irvine) and at that point we already know pretty much everything we already did. Out of the young lads Skinner is easily the suitor with the most personality which isn’t hard to do when your counterpart is Colin Firth. They’re all absolutely gorgeous though and the film does a good job of seeing why Donna falls for them.
It’s utterly charming, campy and full of love and light. Plus Cher shows up and sings something that will make you just die. You’ll be seduced by literally everyone in the movie, except maybe Pierce Brosnan but even his earnest singing will make you smile. It is the blessing the first one gave us: incredible pop hits, an ensemble that anyone would die for, sprite musical numbers, a gorgeous set piece and a sex positive and loving message.