Director: Rob Marshall
Starring: Emily Blunt, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Ben Whishaw, Emily Mortimer, Julie Walters, Dick Van Dyke, Angela Lansbury, Colin Firth, and Meryl Streep
Ladies and gentlemen, Mary Poppins has returned in Mary Poppins… well… Returns. It’s taken quite some time for the magical nanny to make a comeback, but in many ways, it was worth the wait, but it still has its problems, yet there might be a good reason for that.
Fifty-four years after Disney’s iconic Mary Poppins, the House of Mouse finally managed to make the sequel they’ve wanted to for so long. The original film, starring Julie Andrews as the titular character, was based on stories by P.L. Travers and it’s been well documented how much she disliked the movie.
There was too much singing, too much dancing, and too many animated sequences for her. That wasn’t what Mary Poppins was about. For her, the stories were more about the adult characters, and particular the father, Mr. Banks.
Nothing’s gone forever, only out of place.
Yet, Walt Disney saw the potential Mary Poppins had on the big screen, and boy was he right. When it was released, it was unlike anything that had came before it and was one of the films of the century. Julie Andrews won an Oscar for her portrayal of Poppins, and deservedly so.
It did things that nobody had seen before in cinema and became an instant classic. In many ways, the success and iconic status of the original film is Mary Poppins Returns’ biggest problem.
No sequel could ever hope to surpass a film like Mary Poppins, yet, that doesn’t mean that Mary Poppins Returns isn’t worth your time.
Emily Blunt took the brave decision of bringing the character back to life, and she is, as Mary would say, practically perfect in every way in the lead role.
One thing you should know about Mary Poppins: she never explains anything.
The film takes place a few decades after the original movie, and Michael (Ben Whishaw) and Janes (Emily Mortimer) are all grown up, but they’re in a spot of bother. Michael’s wife has died, and he’s now trying to look after their three children, Anabel (Pixie Davies), John (Nathanael Saleh), and George (Joel Dawson) on his own.
Yet, things take a turn when he’s given a few days to repay a loan he took out from the bank, otherwise, they will repossess his house.
This is where Mary Poppins literally comes out of the blue to help the Banks children, but which children does she mean? Michael’s children, or the original Banks children?
It’s hard not to review this film without comparing it to the original, yet in many ways, you have to, because this is a story for a new generation. It doesn’t have the memorable songs of the original. That was proven by the fact that when I left the screening I was singing Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious and Chim Chim Cher-ee rather than any of the songs in the new film.
It’s a good thing you’ve come along when you did, Mary Poppins.
However, that was always going to happen because of Mary Poppins’ iconic status. It’s tough to write songs better than those ones; however, they gave it a good go.
Much of this film lives and dies on Emily Blunt’s performance as Mary, and no one could have done it better. She is perfect in the role and from the minute she appeared I was tearing up. She has everything: the voice, the look, the poise, the face, that cheeky smile.
Then there’s the supporting cast, and they’re equally as good. Lin-Manuel Miranda plays Jack, a lamplighter who’s the former apprentice of Dick Van Dyke’s Bert from the first film. He’s actually rather important in this film, and Miranda really stands out as one it’s key performers.
Also, his American cockney accent is much better than Van Dyke’s, yet he manages to keep the spirit of Bert’s terrible patois alive.
What brings you here after all this time?
Mary Poppins Returns was never going to do what the original film did for cinema, yet what it does do is reintroduce a generation to the delights of the character and the magical world Walt Disney helped to create all those years ago. It’s fun, charming, full of colour, musical, uplifting, emotional – everything you could have wanted this film to be.
It won’t win Oscars, but it’s a real crowd pleaser, and that’s precisely what we need right now. Once again, Mary Poppins has come to save not just the Banks children, but audiences across the globe who are in need of a little cinema magic.