As an ardent ABBA fan, I was excited to see Mammia Mia! Here We Go Again, a sequel to the first Mamma Mia! movie released ten years earlier. The films are based on the popular Broadway musical of the same name, written by two members of the Swedish supergroup ABBA, Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson.
In the first, a young woman named Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) is planning her wedding and decides to contact three of her mother’s former lovers in hopes of finding out which of them is her real father. This fact is never revealed, but Sophie ultimately comes to view each of them as her father in their own ways.
The sequel elaborates on the life of Sophie’s mother Donna (Meryl Streep) who we learn has died early on in the film. Consequently, Sophie is struggling to plan a memorial for her mother and is also expecting a child herself as tensions with her husband amount.
She is supported by Tanya and Rosie, two of her mother’s friends and former bandmates who sang in the group, “Donna and the Dynamos.” I could not help but feel that this storyline was a bit lackluster. While the first film seemed to have a clearly defined plot, this one seemed a bit random, especially with the introduction of Donna’s estranged mother and Sophie’s grandmother, Ruby (Cher). She makes her entrance with the song “Fernando,” which she sings to her long-lost lover of the same name.
For me, the best part of the film was not the plot but rather the music, which is something that every fan and critic can agree on. The timeless hits of ABBA performed in new and refreshing ways by the cast become the unifying thread that ties the story together.
There are additionally cameos by Benny and Björn themselves, as was the case in the previous film. Björn appears in the opening scene as a professor during the song “When I Kissed The Teacher” while Benny is seen at a café playing piano during the song “Waterloo.”
To me, this was not as amusing as in the first movie when he abruptly appears playing a piano on a floating raft in the middle of the water, but was a great appearance nonetheless. There are also many new ABBA songs that did not appear in the first film, such as one of my favorites, “The Day Before You Came.”
All in all, the film was just about what I expected. Is the plot fascinating? No. Is the music wonderful? Yes. This alone should be reason to see it for any ABBA fan.