Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again

Given the roaring success of the first film (released exactly a decade ago) and the never-seeming-to-close musical, the arrival of the filmed sequel is hardly a surprise. Not surprisingly, the new film delivers on all the song and dance momentum of the prior efforts. Somewhat surprisingly, the new film adds some subtly clever camera and story techniques to give it more heft than expected; you soon realize it is a prequel and a sequel.

Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again is produced by Judy Craymer and Gary Goetzman, producers of the original film. Craymer is also the creator and producer of the worldwide smash-hit stage musical.

Ol Parker, writer of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, wrote and directed from a story by Catherine Johnson, Richard Curtis and Parker. Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus (two of the B’s in ABBA) return to provide music and lyrics and serve as executive producers. Tom Hanks, Rita Wilson, Phyllida Lloyd, Richard Curtis and Nicky Kentish Barnes also serve as executive producers.

Much of the original cast returns, with Colin Firth perhaps being the most enjoyable to watch. He combines a great balance of British reserve and befuddlement. Pierce Brosnan’s role is the largest of the three dads, but he sometimes feels ill at ease in the role. Andy Garcia is intriguingly smooth in a role that expands nicely toward the final act. On the distaff side, the ladies in the cast are uniformly strong. Shout outs to Meryl Streep as Donna, Julie Walters as Rosie and Christine Baranski as Tanya​, each reprising their roles​.

The film looks undeniably gorgeous. Although set in Greece, the key island scenes were shot in Croatia. A few anachronistic costume decisions confuse the timelines, but overall the film is replete with eye candy. Invariably, many of the songs from the first film find their way into the sequel. It is a testament to the writers that they were able to fold into the plot reasons for more ABBA songs.

For a band that sang most of their songs phonetically, ABBA has shown an incredibly long shelf life since winning the Eurovision Song Contest in 1974. They won with “Waterloo,” which in the new film is given a clever treatment inside (where else) a French restaurant.

The Swedish quartet have sold over 385 million albums worldwide and their songs have been streamed over 2.8 billion times. At one point, ABBA was the largest revenue generating enterprise in Sweden, exceeding Volvo or Saab. Whether that is still the case is immaterial; “Here We Go Again” will keep the quartet well supplied with more bell bottom trousers than they could possibly want.

Brad Auerbach has been a journalist and editor covering the media, entertainment, travel and technology scene for many years. He has written for Forbes, Time Out London, SPIN, Village Voice, LA Weekly and early in his career won a New York State College Journalism Award.