Song of the Day #4,204: ‘Dancing Queen’ – Cast of Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again

Best Movies of the 2010s
#19 – Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again (2018)

From a tense and moving documentary about a mass shooting to a musical sequel from one of pop culture’s goofiest cinematic universes. Love it or hate it, you can’t say this list isn’t eclectic.

Certain qualities make movies stand out and stick with me. The biggest is the ability to choke me up and squeeze a tear out of my stubbornly dry eyes. Several films on this Top 20 managed that feat.

Another is the element of surprise; or put another way, how unexpected is my enjoyment. Joe Wright’s Pride and Prejudice was my favorite film of 2005 in part because I never thought it would get anywhere near my top ten, and instead I wound up obsessed with it.

Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again falls into that surprise category. I was not a fan of the original film (I appreciate its campy charms but don’t succumb to them) and was basically dragged into this one. I figured I would forget it the moment it ended.

Instead, I found myself loving it from the first frame. I actually remember sitting in the theater, halfway through one of the early musical numbers, thinking “can this movie really be as great as I think it is right now?” And it only got better from there.

I watched the film two or three more times in theaters and I’ve watched it more than a half dozen times since then, including poolside on a cruise ship through the Greek Isles, and it has never stopped thrilling me.

Much of the credit is due to the film’s breakout star, Lily James, who delivers a magnetic performance, bursting with energy and life. But I don’t want to shortchange the rest of the very winning cast, from the new faces who play younger versions of the first film’s characters to veterans like Colin Firth, Meryl Streep and Cher.

This might be the most lowbrow entry on my decade-end list, but it’s also the one I’m most likely to watch in full again tomorrow.

[Intro]
You can dance
You can jive
Having the time of your life
Ooh, ooh, ooh
See that girl
Watch that scene
Digging the dancing queen

[Verse 1]
Friday night and the lights are low
Looking out for a place to go
Where they play the right music, getting in the swing
You come to look for a king

[Verse 2]
Anybody could be that guy
Night is young and the music’s high
With a bit of rock music, everything’s fine
You’re in the mood for a dance

[Pre-Chorus]
And when you get the chance…

[Chorus]
You are the dancing queen
Young and sweet
Only seventeen
Dancing Queen
Feel the beat
From the tambourine
Oh yeah
You can dance
You can jive
Having the time of your life
Ooh, ooh, ooh
See that girl
Watch that scene
Digging the dancing queen

[Verse 3]
You’re a teaser
You turn ‘em on
Leave them burning
And then you’re gone
Looking out for another
Anyone will do
You’re in the mood for a dance

[Pre-Chorus]
And when you get the chance…

[Chorus]
You are the dancing queen
Young and sweet
Only seventeen
Dancing queen
Feel the beat
From the tambourine
Oh yeah
You can dance
You can jive
Having the time of your life
Ooh, ooh, ooh
See that girl
Watch that scene
Digging the dancing queen

[Outro]
Digging the dancing queen
Digging the dancing queen
Digging the dancing queen

12 thoughts on “Song of the Day #4,204: ‘Dancing Queen’ – Cast of Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again

  1. Dana Gallup says:

    As I have said before, you’re love of this movie, and opinion that it is somehow substantially better than the first one, boils down to two things: you’re obsession with Lily James and the person you have become (father of two girls with whom you experienced the movie and fed off their emotions and love). I’m not suggesting there is really anything wrong with that, but you should just own that and stop with the persistent efforts to rationalize why this is such a great movie or that it is so much better than the first one.

    • Clay says:

      I think you’re overestimating both the father-daughter element and my obsession with Lily James, which did not exist prior to seeing this movie. Her performance here certainly made me an instant fan, which is a testament to both her and the movie. I am far from alone in finding this movie much better than the first, not that I need numbers to back up my opinion. You can try to reverse engineer my reasons for loving this movie if you want, but the fact is I love it, and did right from the start.

      • Dana Gallup says:

        And I think you’re underestimating these factors 🙂

        I think there are always (or almost always) extrinsic factors at play as to opinions about movies, TV shows, music, etc. I maintain that your love of this film is based on extrinsic rather than intrinsic factors. For one, there is the expectations factor–you admit you had to be “dragged” to see the movie and didn’t expect to like it. Then you have the familial/communal experience factor — here you saw the film with your family–all of whom loved it–and so your opinions impacted each other.

        I don’t think these extrinsic factors can turn a bad movie into a favorite (though it might make it a guilty pleasure), but it can certainly turn a good but not great movie into a top 20 of the decade favorite.

        Amy and I were discussing this morning that her love of Uncut Gems was very likely influenced by the fact that she sat next to and shared the experience with Maddie, who loved the movie. Had Amy seen the movie with you or your parents, she may have liked, but not loved the movie–or perhaps she would have even shared in the things that annoyed or bothered you. Similarly, Amy’s opinion of The Irishman was likely colored by the fact that she saw it with Daniel and me, who were both less than enthusiastic about the movie (I’m sorry, Mr. Scorsese–“film”) Had she seen it with you or your parents (more likely your parents unless she wanted to watch it with you on your iPad), she may well have had a far more favorable reaction.

        Amy brought up The Melting Pot as an analogy– it’s a good restaurant–but not one that is highly ranked/reviewed (similar to Mamma Mia II, which had good but not great reviews and had the identical audience score as Mama Mia I at around 53%). However, in our family, the Melting Pot has become a special occasion tradition. Every experience there has been wonderful and memorable. So, the Melting Pot is a favorite for that reason–because of the extrinsic factors we bring to it — more than the intrinsic factors of the food, service, etc.

        • Clay says:

          First, just for the record, Mamma Mia 2 had an 80% Fresh Tomato ranking, while the first film was rotten with a 56%. They did have identical audience scores at 66%, which frankly shocks me in both cases as I’d expect feel-good films like these to rank much higher.

          Second, I agree 100% that external factors play a role in how much we enjoy a movie. I would never argue that point. The examples you give are good ones, and I could come up with plenty more.

          That said, I don’t think “obsession with Lily James” can be considered an external factor when I had zero associations with Lily James going into the movie. You could definitely argue that the NEXT movie I saw starring Lily James benefitted from said obsession, but not this one.

          The next one, incidentally, was Darkest Hour, which did not make it on this list! Neither did Little Woods, Yesterday, or The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, so clearly “presence of Lily James” is not a one-way ticket to my Best of the 2010s list.

          Now, is Lily James’ performance in Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again one of the main reasons I love the movie? Absolutely! Just as Adam Sandler’s performance in Uncut Gems is one of the reasons Maddie and Amy love that movie. They didn’t go in as Adam Sandler fangirls, but his work in the movie won them over in a major way. The same thing is true for Ms. James in this movie.

          I agree that I have more affection for the film because my daughters loved it as well, and because the three of us went back to see it a second time. (Alex, incidentally, is pretty meh on the movie). But I would not have wanted to see it a second time, with or without them, if I wasn’t such a fan in the first place.

          I recently saw Frozen 2 with my family and everybody but me was blown away by it. I thought it was fine. They wanted to go back. I said I’d go see Uncut Gems or something else while they enjoyed themselves with Anna and Elsa. The family experience only gets you so far if the movie doesn’t work for you in the first place.

          • Dana Gallup says:

            Okay, so Lily James wasn’t an external factor–but, as I think you concede, your love at first sight for her made you love this movie–which is fine — but stop trying to further rationalize that enhanced opinion by arguing that the acting, plot, songs, direction, etc were so great or so much better than MMI. You think Cher was really an enhancement to this movie? Really? She was completely shoehorned into it and then inexplicably dominated the last 20 minutes or so because…well, she’s CHER I guess. Meanwhile, Streep, the true glue of Mamma Mia, was far too absent from the sequel–a large part of the reason it was not a great movie.

            As for the family experience extrinsic factor–as I said–neither that factor nor any other extrinsic factor is going to turn a bad or mediocre movie into a favorite. I disagree that Frozen II was bad or mediocre, but, if that was your impression–then, no, it would not be elevated to “great” or a favorite. However, in the case of MMII, I would argue it was a good movie, but not great and certainly not worthy of being anywhere near a top 20 of the entire friggin’ decade list! And the reason it’s on your list (and your list only–save possibly your daughters) is because of Lily James and the bolstering of the experience because of your daughters’ love of the movie. Any other reason you try to give beyond that is just balderdash.

          • Clay says:

            I didn’t think Frozen 2 was bad or mediocre. I thought it was good, not great (which is how you feel about Mamma Mia 2). By your logic, that “good not great” film should be elevated by the fact that my family loved it. That didn’t happen.

            I wasn’t blown away by Meryl Streep in the first film (as I said, I don’t really like it) so I thought her inclusion here was just perfect, in one of the movie’s most moving scenes. And Cher’s late entry with the great ‘Fernando’ was a splendid cherry on top of an already delicious confection. I know you find it hard to accept, but I truly believe this film works like a sonofabitch start to finish, with great musical numbers, funny jokes, genuine emotion, strong performances and beautiful scenery.

            Of course every movie that ends up on a list like this is there for very subjective reasons, including intrinsic and extrinsic factors. I just find it funny that you think you can boil down why something is on MY list based on your own opinions.

            As I wrote in this post, the main reason I chose to give this film a spot on the list (as opposed to the dozens of other movies that could have just as legitimately been here) is that my reaction to it surprised me. It’s not a movie I expected to like, let alone love and watch over and over again. That’s why it’s on the list. It’s the only movie on my Top 20 that I didn’t expect to like going in, and I think that’s worth recognizing.

          • Dana Gallup says:

            Qi think your mom really did say it best…so I too will just say I’m happy for you.🥴

  2. Peg says:

    I’m happy for you 😊

  3. The Cool Guy (Daniel) says:

    I always thought this was a fun and touching film. Watching scenes from it again and again on the cruise only furthered my enjoyment of it. It didn’t strike me in the same way the first Mamma Mia did, but it stands as a good film in its own right. Lily James is excellent, some of the new songs are great, and it is a movie I always know I can turn to for a great time.

  4. Amy says:

    I love that you love this movie, and our debate over it reminds me of our similarly silly debate over what you (correctly, perhaps) viewed as our overblown appreciation for My Big Fat Greek Wedding oh so many years ago. In both cases, you can’t really explain or defend a warm and happy enjoyment of a film that aims to be delightful not mind altering.

    All that said, I will once more place in the record that I can’t fathom how any film without Meryl Streep can be considered as good as a film with her in it.

    • Clay says:

      Ah yes, My Big Fat Greek Wedding! I recall Dana had that in his top 2-3 of the year, which led to endless debates just like this one. It took 18 years for us to switch sides!

      I will submit that Meryl Streep was in She-Devil and she was not in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, thereby proving your statement false!

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