The plot: 20-year-old Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) is the daughter of single mom and former rock star Donna (Meryl Streep). Sophie is getting married to Sky (Dominic Cooper) and wants her father to be at her wedding; unfortunately, she doesn't know who her father is, as Donna never told her. Donna herself doesn't even know, having slept with three guys right around the time she became pregnant: Sam (Pierce Brosnan), Harry (Colin Firth) and Bill (Stellan Skarsgård). Unbeknownst to her mother, Sophie invites all three possible dads to her wedding to try and find her natural father.
Despite mixed reviews from critics, it was a hit with audiences, earning over $600 million at the worldwide box office. A sequel, entitled Here We Go Again, was released ten years later in July 2018.
Tropes in the film:
- 20 Minutes into the Past: The film was released in 2008. 20-year-old Sophie is explicitly said to have been conceived "at the end of flower power", i.e. the early sixties to late seventies.note This and the fact that the musical seems to take place during Internet adoption time, what with Sky's advertising venture, clocks the action in at the early to mid nineties, and the headline of the newspaper that Harry opens up at the beginning of the film places it definitively in 1999.
- Adaptation Name Change: Bill Austin becomes Bill Anderson in the film, as he's played by Swedish actor Stellan Skarsgård.
- Adaptational Nationality: Bill Austin was Australian in the stage version, but became Swedish in the film.
- Artistic License Traditional Christianity: Judging from how he's vested, if the priest (who has his actor's native Irish accent) isn't Catholic, then he's Orthodox. Either way, you'd expect he would refuse to marry Sam to Donna, as he had just revealed that he had gotten divorced.
- Breaking the Fourth Wall: In the film's closing sequence, Donna looks towards the camera and asks the audience, "Do you want another one?!" before singing "Waterloo".
- Chick Flick: The fifth highest-grossing film of 2008, and targeted at female audiences to boot!
- Creator Cameo: Benny Andersson appears as a piano player during "Dancing Queen". Bjorn Ulvaeus appears as a member of the Greek Pantheon during "Waterloo". They also make cameos in the sequel.
- Demoted to Extra: The character Eddie in the stage musical is reduced to a background character in the film and has no lines at all. Pepper is also less prominent in the film, so much that he is never referred to by name on screen. Both characters are completely taken out of the scene where Tanya and Rosie arrive on the island, which is where Pepper is properly introduced to the former and immediately tries to make his move (although both men are present in a deleted portion of the scene available on the DVD release).
- Deuteragonist: The film is just as much about Donna as it is about Sophie. After all, what director on Earth is going to cast Meryl Streep in a supporting role?
- Dramatic Ellipsis: Sophie's friends wonder why the diary contains so many "dot dot dot"s, as they are nods to off-screen sexual encounters with three of Sophie's potential fathers. Not explicit details or words, just dots.Sophie: Dot, dot, dot - that's what they did in the olden days.
- No Indoor Voice: All the women qualify. Peculiarly during the scene where Sophie loudly sings and narrates her mother's diary entries of her past lovers to her friends and some of the passerbys looking at her in shock and confusion.
- One Dialogue, Two Conversations: After the bachelorette party, both Bill and Harry are trying to tell the other that they found out that they're Sophie's father (at least that's what they think). However, Bill thinks Harry is trying to Come Out to him, while Harry thinks Bill is trying to admit to hooking up Rosie.
- Scenery Porn: The film makes full use of its "Greek island" setting, with lots of emphasis on the beautiful village and waters.
- Shirtless Scene:
- In the film, Sky is shirtless for the entire "Lay All Your Love on Me" scene.
- Bill has his shirt hanging open the morning after the bachelorette party.
- Towards the end, Donna rips off Sam's shirt when everyone is doused with water. According to Brosnan, this was improvised by Streep.
- The "Does Your Mother Know?" scene has Pepper and most of the male ensemble shirtless throughout.
- Tell Me About My Father!: The plot of the first film. Sophie asking her mother Donna who her real father is. It's because of lack of mother-daughter communication that prompts Sophie to locate her three possible fathers and invite them to her wedding.
- Two Scenes, One Dialogue: After the bachelorette party, Donna/Sophie is fretting to Rosie & Tanya/Ali & Lisa over the three-dads-present issue. Rosie & Tanya/Ali & Lisa decide to take the men out fishing to keep them distracted.