Sophie Sheridan is an energetic, outgoing woman who wants to be just like her mom – at least, in most ways.
That’s one reason she’s opening a hotel on the Greek island of Kalokairi, where her mom owned a hotel, too. It’s a beautiful landscape straight from a postcard, with peaceful beaches, rocky cliffs and flora unlike anywhere in the world.
And with everything now in place, she’s ready to invite family and friends to a grand opening. At the top of her list: her “three fathers” -- the three men her mom slept with during a short period of time when Sophie was conceived. A paternity test was never taken, and Sophie wants it to stay that way. She loves all of them.
But now Sophie has a bigger problem than her hotel could bring. Her fiancé, Sky, has been offered a job in New York City – a location very different from the laid-back life of Kalokairi. Can their romance survive when they’re going in opposite directions?
The musical Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again (PG-13) opens this weekend, a full decade after the 2008 film Mamma Mia! became a hit. It tells the story of Sophie but also uses multiple flashbacks to give us a glimpse of her mom’s youth. It stars Lily James (Cinderella) as the young Donna; Amanda Seyfried (Les Miserables, Mamma Mia!) as Sophie; Meryl Streep as the older Donna; and Cher as Sophie’s grandmother.
The movies are based on a Broadway play and include music from the 70s group ABBA, along with new songs written by ABBA member Benny Andersson.
Here are seven things parents should know:
Warning: minor spoilers ahead!
1. It has no violence and only a little language.I counted about six coarse words: h-ll (2), misuse of “God” (2), misuse of “Jesus Christ” (1) and OMG (1). It’s rare for a PG-13 film to make it to the big screen with no violence and only a few words. But …
2. It contains a moderate amount of sexuality/sensuality. We’re trying to determine which one of Sophie’s three fathers is her real dad. Thus, we’re given a trip back in time to the life of the young Donna, whose attitudes about romance and sex are straight out of the care-free 60s and 70s. At her first date, the two discuss the “advantages and disadvantages of spending the night together.” They sing and dance, and then have sex. (We only see them in bed after the fact.) She then meets a man who owns a boat and who agrees to take her across the sea to her destination. They skip sex this time, but in a later scene, we see her hopping in the bed with him on the boat. (Sex is implied.) She then meets a third man. They kiss outside his home at night, and on his boat the next morning discuss what happened the night before. She is in love but soon discovers he was engaged to another woman. Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again! contains no nudity or bedroom scenes, but it has a fair amount of kissing and discussion of sex. We also see young Donna several times in a bikini top and in costumes exposing her midriff.
3. The music and dance are fun.For moviegoers who enjoy musicals, it’s a fun ride. Of course, it helps if you have an appreciation for ABBA’s music. Some of the dancing is sensual, but most of it stays in family-friendly territory.
4. It has solid lessons about parenthood and responsibility.Donna was irresponsible in her actions, but once she became pregnant, she did the right thing in giving birth and then raising Sophie. Too, the three fathers show responsibility in caring for Sophie, even though they’re not sure which one is the true dad. One of them goes so far as to walk out of a work-related business meeting to attend Sophie’s grand opening. “Family is all that matters,” he says.
5. It has abysmal lessons about romance and sex.Buried underneath the upbeat toe-tapping music is an unbiblical message about romance and love:Have fun in your youth. Go wild. Let the chips fall where they may. Yes, it’s wonderful to take responsibility, but wouldn’t it be great to make the right decision on the front end? The movie ends with Sophie’s grandmother (Cher) and a long-lost love singing about a passionate one-night stand. The song’s theme: They’d do it all over again if they could. Not surprisingly, no prominent character in the film is married. Two older women even tell Sophie that all men are terrible. When she considers leaving the island to live (and marry?) her finance, they tell her: Your future is your decision. “Do what makes your soul shine,” one says.
Young Donna expresses society’s view of love when she tells her friends: “I don’t know how to sing about love when I’m not feeling it.” True love as defined by the Bible, though, requires sacrifice. It involves loving when you don’t “feel like it.” It necessitates selflessness and action. That’s the only way it can last a lifetime. My daughter is only six, but when she reaches her teens, we may watch the Mamma Mia! films together – simply to discuss how Donna got nearly everything wrong. In the real world, our problems aren’t solved by song and dance.
6. It’s funny.Despite having a few plot holes and a thin storyline, the newest Mamma Mia! had me laughing. Much (it not most) of the comedy is original and clean.
7. You’ll want to stay for the credits.The filmmakers want you to walk out the theater on a high note, feeling great about life. Don’t leave until it’s over.
Michael Foust is a freelance writer. Visit his blog, MichaelFoust.com
Entertainment rating: 3 out of 5 stars. Family-friendly rating: 3 out of 5 stars.
Rated PG-13 for some suggestive material.