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'Mamma Mia 2': A Fan's Critique

The film has too many flaws for me to ignore.

DISCLAIMER: If you have not yet seen Mamma Mia 2 (and don’t want any spoilers), look away now and get down to the nearest cinema. It’s a brilliant film for less mad fans than me.

I’m not saying I didn’t enjoy Mamma Mia 2. The film was full of energy and happiness, bringing back the much-loved characters of the first film with some different Abba classics thrown in. I sat in a small dusty cinema, surrounded by pensioners and singing to my heart’s content, and I definitely walked out with a smile on my face. HOWEVER, and this is the "but" that I can’t ignore, there were several major plot holes. Having seen the first classic only a million times, it wasn’t difficult to spot flaws that the producers must have overlooked. I don’t know why such a big budget film wouldn’t have checked for continuity, and, if they did, why ignore key facts from the first movie? Here’s a bunch of problems that, if you didn’t spot while watching the sequel, you will struggle to overlook now.

Donna's dead.

Okay, less of a plot flaw but still definitely an annoyance. Why kill off the wonderful Donna Sheridan, who all but made the first film? Her death is never fully explained and doesn’t add to the plot line at all, other than a few uncomfortable expressions from the rest of the cast. It was not at all clear from trailers that Donna was absent. In fact, it seemed that she was a major part again. The film used the name of Meryl Streep to sell the film without providing the screen time Meryl needs and the audience expects.

The directors then had the audacity to bring back a ghost or expression of Donna for one song. While this scene was touching, as Sophie prepared to have her own baby christened, she looked like a right idiot walking down the church’s aisle reaching out for her dead mother’s hands. I’m sorry, Meryl, you deserved so much better than the one scene you were given.

The Young Bill, Sam, and Harry

While this dash of eye candy was thoroughly appreciated (by me and the pensioners sat behind), they lacked strong resemblance to the adult characters other than hair colour and some good voice imitation. In the first film, her three fathers show Sophie photographs of them when they met her mum back in the hippie age of the 70s. The re-enactments of these meetings in the pre-sequel did not have the long hair, headbands, or wild clothes of these photographs (other than young Donna at times). We shouldn’t have been given a glimpse of the way Donna met these fetching young men if it wasn’t going to match the scenes later on.

The order of these encounters also did not match the first movie. At the start of Mamma Mia, Sophie reads Donna’s diary, in which Donna clearly sets out her romantic timeline as going Sam, Bill, then Harry. All three were on the island; Donna showed them around and quickly moved on to the next suitor. In the sequel, however, young Donna meets Harry in Paris (!), then Sam on the island, and then Bill. Like, what? Donna’s diary was the most accurate historical source for her past relationships, and the directors hardly paid attention to it.

Donna's Inheritance of the Hotel

One of the reasons Sophie (and of course, the audience) were led to believe that the dashing Bill Anderson was her father in the first movie was that Donna had inherited the hotel from an old lady she had cared for named Sophia, who Sophie was named after. Bill had been told that his grandmother, the lady Donna had cared for, had given her home to "family." In Mamma Mia 2, Donna simply stumbles across this beaten house, cares for the horse, and then is offered it as a home from a random bar owner where she sometimes performs. When Bill emerges on the island, there is no sense of recognition between the lady and Bill, and certainly no sense of family. I don’t understand why the directors would eliminate this part of the story, reducing Bill to just another boy Donna slept with.

Ruby Sheridan

While the inclusion of Cher in the second film was very exciting and much anticipated, she was not used well at all. In the first movie, it was told that Donna’s mother had kicked her out once she became pregnant, yet all of a sudden she re-emerges for Sophie’s hotel opening, and the two evidently know each other. She sings "Fernando" beautifully, as would be expected, but again does not add to the plot line in any way. Cher was used, just as Meryl was, for the selling of the film, but she actually played a significantly small part. 

This criticism of Mamma Mia 2 only comes from love of the first film. I know the whole script inside out and therefore recognise when the sequel doesn’t match up. Parts of the film were absolutely brilliant, namely the comedy duo of Rosie and Tanya as teenagers and adults, the awkwardness of Colin Firth, and the incredible musicality in tribute to Abba. Please do go see it and make your mind up yourself, though; it makes for a wonderful song and dance.

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