Anna Imhof 🌸’s review published on Letterboxd:
Did you hear that? That was the sound of my heart breaking into pieces.
Please please please tell me that there are other people out there who think that the first Mamma Mia was a million times better than this one, or I will feel like an alien. I was never ashamed to admit that I had a lot of fun with the original--it was filled with such wonderful spontaneity and infectious joy that you'd have to be deeply cynical not to warm to it, but this sequel had none of the ingredients that made the first one the great party that it was. As a matter of fact it's almost the opposite: It's completely uninspired.
Half-told through flashbacks, we are being introduced to a younger version of Meryl Streep (played by Lily James), a free spirit who's just finished college and now wants to explore the world, and within like fifteen minutes we've already been introduced to three different but equally nondescript men that she's met on her travels and has established a really special/deep/intimate connection with, and everything is so rushed you have no idea what's going on. I understand that the passing of time in a film is a tricky business, but it's a challenge that comes with the making of almost every movie, and more often than not directors find a solution that makes sense. The story development here is absolutely horrendous, the general laziness almost impressive. None of these younger characters have a story or even a proper face, they're just hurriedly thrown in front of us like snapshots, younger versions of the characters the audience is expected to remember from the original.
They didn't even bother to make the sets and costumes look like we're in the 70s. Lily James just looks like she went shopping with Drew Barrymore, is all. With the shitload of money the first movie made, one would expect that the production wouldn't look so cheap and half-assed. Whoever did the make-up should have been fired as well. Everyone's face was orange and Amanda Seyfried is so wrinkly she looks 50 instead of 30. But maybe that's because she's been frowning her whole life, and not to blame on the make-up person. Not trying to shame her or anything, we all start looking like shit once we get older, if we weren't already looking like shit when we were young, but I was seriously shocked at how old and unwell she looks. She always had and still has a lovely singing voice, though. Better than those ABBA chicks, in my opinion. She just didn't get enough moments to shine--having to share the spotlight with Lily James, who did nothing for me.
Either way, halfway through I just couldn't bear it anymore, so I turned it off with the intention never to return, and instead I watched a documentary about a Hindu cult whose followers feed on the flesh of corpses and play with their own feces, and I'm not gonna lie, I liked that a whole lot better. At least those guys have convictions! Mamma Mia II feels so uninspired, you can't help but think the sole motivation behind it was to milk the cash cow--almost everyone in the cast looks like they were held at gunpoint to show up, so I kinda got a cynical vibe from it all.
Meryl Streep's brief appearance was a painful reminder of what this movie needed the most. Her! Her in those cute little denim overalls! I'm not even her biggest fan or anything, but she brought with her a spirit that this sequel is so sorely missing. And I absolutely love her singing. My One and Only, a song where she's beautifully harmonizing with Seyfried, is the film's only highlight.
Anyways, after I'd finished my documentary I was hungry so I ran out for some quick groceries, bought some fruit and veggies, saw an ugly baby, calmed a little doggie that was crying outside the store--all of those things were more fun than watching this film. Yes, even buying some lame-ass iceberg salad brought me more joy. On my way home it hit me: "Wait, isn't Colin Firth gonna do some awkward dancing?" I'd heard a rumor. I'm the kinda gal who will do a lot for a man she likes, especially if he's the sort who doesn't mind making a fool of himself, so I hurried home and continued the film despite it all. At one hour and nine minutes he finally showed up, and he almost didn't dance at all.
But at least he wasn't orange.