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Mary Poppins Returns (A Movie Review)

Updated: Mar 4, 2020

Mary Poppins Returns


Starring Emily Blunt, Ben Whishaw, Emily Mortimer, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Colin Firth, Nathanael Saleh, Pixie Davies, Joel Dawson, Meryl Streep, Dick Van Dyke, Julie Walters, Angela Lansbury, David Warner, Jeremy Swift, Kobna Holdbrook-Smith, Jim Norton, Noma Dumezweni and the voices of Chris O’Dowd, Mark Addy and Edward Hibbert.

Screenplay by David Magee.

Directed by Rob Marshall.

Distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures. 130 minutes. Rated PG.

I feel like I witnessed true 2018 magic today.

From the opening scenes, Mary Poppins Returns pays homage to its 1964 predecessor, complete with an old-time London setting that looks like it popped right out of a chalk painting. No stone was left unturned. New story lines incorporated both familiar and new characters and continued to follow through on Mary Poppins imagery, costumery, and even animation – staying true to the original while adding freshness.

Emily Blunt reprises the role of Mary Poppins, stepping into Julie Andrew’s hard-to-fill shoes. And she was lovely. Her singing voice was charming, her demeanor spot on, and appearance – down to the rosy cheeks and sparkle in her eyes – was practically perfect in every way.

Fans of Lin-Manuel Miranda will fawn over his scenes playing lamplighter Jack, complete with a vaudevillian fast-rapping number in an animated scene and the incredible dance number in “The Light Fantastic” that feels reminiscent of “Chim Chim Cher-ee” from the original Mary Poppins.

Jane and Michael Banks return – all grown up and very well cast with Emily Mortimer and Ben Whishaw. Whishaw felt less like a grown-up Michael than Mortimer’s Jane, but added a lot of teary-eyed emotion and some serious singing ability. Jane is exactly how you would hope that she would be: steadfast and passionate, taking over her mom’s role in public advocacy.

After the opening credits, the film breaks into a bit of chaos – straight out of, yet still different from the original. We are introduced to John, Anabel and Georgie (played by Nathanael Saleh, Pixie Davies and Joel Dawson), the three children of Michael Banks. They are absolutely adorable with their British accents, stiff upper lip attitude and perfect costumes.

Their mother has passed away and the two eldest have taken over in a protective role over both Georgie and their father. Thus, they forget the fun of childhood.

That is, until the rogue, patched kite from the final scene of Mary Poppins (complete with suffragette tail) comes back into play. In an uncontrolled gust of wind, it brings Mary Poppins back in to the Banks Family’s life.

Unfortunately, it is not soon enough to get Michael’s grieving brain back on track before the bank (yes, that Bank) has decided to foreclose on their home loan. Colin Firth is truly a wolf in sheep’s clothing, playing the dapper but conniving Bank CEO, counting down the minutes until he can repossess the Banks Family House.

There are some incredible cameos, but avoiding spoiler moments, Meryl Streep shines in her role as Mary Poppins’ cousin, Topsy.  She adds levity and perspective for our three little pips.

From first viewing, the song and dance numbers were very entertaining. It is hard to believe that they will ever be as memorable or iconic as the originals, but then again, Mary Poppins Returns is its own film and not meant to be a sequel.

Overall, Mary Poppins Returns will be an audience pleaser. Children will love the magic and colorful imagery. Adults will love getting the nostalgic peek back to their childhood favorite characters. Teens will love seeing Miranda and Blunt in their roles, particularly the big singing and dancing numbers. I can honestly say I had a smile on my face through the whole film.

Bonnie Paul

Copyright ©2018 All rights reserved. Posted: December 19, 2018.

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