Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again

Front Row at the Movies by Shirrel Rhoades

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As the movie’s title proclaims, here we go again. Fans of “Mamma Mia!,” the 2008 romantic comedy based on the music of Swedish pop group ABBA, will welcome this sequel/prequel.

The original “Mamma Mia!” had an ongoing life in sing-along showings until it achieved cult film status.

The jukebox musical told the story of a single mother (Meryl Streep) who hadn’t revealed the father of her grown daughter (Amanda Seyfried). But the girl’s upcoming wedding raises the question of who should give the bride away. There are three candidates (Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth, and Stellan Skarsgård) from the mother’s past.

Yes, there’s plenty of singing and dancing as the question of paternity is debated.

Familiar ABBA songs included the 1975 chart-topper “Mamma Mia,” as well as such repetitive titles as “Honey, Honey,” “Money, Money, Money,” “Gimme, Gimme, Gimme,” and “I do, I do, I do.” And, of course, “Dancing Queen” – some two dozen bouncy tunes in all.

Audience often found they wanted to dance in the aisles.

But there were still plenty of ABBA songs to draw upon, so Universal Pictures talked ABBA (Agnetha Åse Fältskog, Benny Andersson, Björn Ulvaeus, and Anni-Frid Lyngstad) into a sequel.

“Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again” is making music again at Tropic Cinema.

The new movie is both a sequel and a prequel. We find that it’s five years later and the daughter is pregnant and her marriage rocky. But she gets encouragement as she learns more about her mother’s past, from fronting a musical group called The Dynamos to meeting each of her three dads.

The original cast returns. Plus we get to meet the grandmother (yes, it’s Cher).

“Grandma, you aren’t invited,” says Seyfried’s character.

“That the best kind of party, little girl,” Cher’s character replies.

And it is.

We get 18 songs. Some of them are happy repeats (“Mamma Mia,” “Dancing Queen,” etc.) as well as many newbies for future singalongs (“Kisses of Fire,” “When I Kissed the Teacher,” “I Wonder,” Angeleyes,” “Knowing Me, Knowing You,” “I’ve Been Waiting For You,” et al.).

Needless to say, there’s a second cast, playing younger versions of the principals (Lily James, Jeremy Irvine, Hugh Skinner, and Josh Dylan, among them) in the flashbacks.

Again the story is set on a Greek island, but much of the movie’s scenery comes from Vis, a Croatian island in the Adriatic Sea.

Like its predecessor, “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again” has a theme of female empowerment (not that gay audiences won’t enjoy it too). But at its heart the film explores parentage.

However, these are big Cinderella slippers to fill.

Would you believe that Phyllida Lloyd’s “Mamma Mia!” was, until Patty Jenkins’ “Wonder Woman,” the biggest-grossing live-action film with a female director? Would you believe that “Mamma Mia!” was, until “Beauty and the Beast,” the biggest-grossing live-action musical of all time? Would you believe that “Mamma Mia!,” which earned $615 million worldwide, grossed more in the summer of 2008 than “Iron Man?”

Now the question is, will “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again” live up to its own parentage?

Email Shirrel: srhoades@aol.com

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