FRIDAY, JULY 20, 2018 -- It's hard to believe it has been ten years since Meryl Streep, Amanda Seyfield and Pierce Brosnan belted out ABBA tunes in "Mamma Mia". More importantly, it's hard to believe that it was Meryl Streep's biggest box office hit, earning $144 million domestically ($609 million globally); the 3-time Oscar winning actress has only had six films that grossed over $100 million.


As we know, Hollywood doesn't let a hit go unsequelled, so - as it says in the title - here we go again. The original film's director Phyllida Lloyd is missing, so Universal turned the reins over to novice director Ol Parker who is better known as the writer of "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" and "The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel". He brings back most of the original cast, though Meryl's role is as a specter. Amanda Seyfried returns as an older Sophie paying homage to her late mother by building at hotel on their Greek Island.


Her three daddies are around Bill (Stellan Skarsgard), Harry (Colin Firth), and Sam (Pierce Brosnan) though the film focuses more on their younger selves and how each met and slept with the younger Donna (played by Lily James).

Bouncing back and forth from present day (which is five years after the original was set) and when Donna first arrived on the island we follow her as she meets young Bill (Josh Dylan), young Harry Hugh Skinner) and young Sam (Jeremy Irvine); all seducing her fairly easily before going their separate ways.


In the present, Sophie is stressing over the opening of the hotel with her late mom's best buds Rosie (Julie Walters) and Tanya (Christine Baranski). The project is being overseen by handyman guru Fernando (Andy Garcia) who spends most of the time making prophetic announcements like "A storm is coming." Umm.


This loosely threaded plot is once again wrapped around songs from the ABBA songbook with a slight overlap that included repeats of Mamma Mia, Dancing Queen, and I Have a Dream. Director Parker spared us of listening to too much of Pierce Brosnan crucifying songs; most of his groaning was muffled by many, many others.


Introduced is Sophie's estranged grandmother Ruby (played by Cher) who manages to turn in a decent performance in her limited screentime, much like she did in "Burlesque". The 72-year old songstress is moving noticeably slower, but can still belt out a memorable tune! James gets the bulk of the singing much like Streep did in the original, while Seyfried holds her own with a few songs.


Parker successfully keeps the films pace upbeat and joyous, just like the original, with plenty of song and dance.


"Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again" will satisfy the thousands of GNOs (girls night out) that made the first a hit. It doesn't miss a beat and might even be a tad better since director Ol Parker muffled Pierce Brosnan!   -- GRADE B --   GEOFF BURTON