“Mary Poppins Returns” stars Emily Blunt, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Ben Whishaw, Emily Mortimer, Julie Walters, Colin Firth, and Meryl Streep. Released on December 19, 2018, the film has Mary Poppins re-visiting the Banks siblings after a family tragedy.
The film is directed by Rob Marshall, who also directed films such as “Chicago”, “Nine”, and “Into the Woods”. It is based on the book series of the same name by P. L. Travers, and it serves as a sequel to the 1964 film, “Mary Poppins”. Once upon a time, a man named Walt Disney adapted a series of novels about a magical nanny into a live-action film. Despite a series of issues involving the author, P. L. Travers, the film went on to become his crowning achievement in live-action. Not only that, but it also won the hearts of people young and old and earned a total of 13 Academy Award nominations. Fast-foward to the year 2018, and the film still never lost its heartwarming touch. So why not keep it going with a sequel? Once again, Disney is digging into its nostalgic treasure chest and pulling out which film to reintroduce to a new generation of kids via a live-action remake, sequel, or prequel. Its latest victim this year is none other than the nanny who’s practically perfect in every way, Mary Poppins. “Mary Poppins” is one of the films that I enjoyed watching when I was little. The presence of Julie Andrews and its whimsical sense of imagination and heart are the main reasons why it’s still stuck in my childhood brain during my adult years. After seeing that they’re developing a follow-up to the 54-year-old classic, I immediately recalled the sense of nostalgia that made me feel like a kid again. You know, like I usually do when I see Disney’s other retellings of their classic films. From the trailers alone, it looks like Disney is doing pretty well in recapturing the heart and soul of the original, but does that make it a worthy continuation?
Much like the first film, the story involves a magical nanny named Mary Poppins (Blunt) who arrives at the house of the Banks family and then magical stuff happens. Seeing that this is a family-friendly motion picture made by the biggest studio on the planet, it makes a whole lot of sense. The only difference is that we see Jane and Michael Banks (played by Mortimer and Whishaw, respectively) as adults, with Michael taking care of his children and the house that he and Jane grew up in after his wife passed away. Even if you haven’t seen the original or read the books, you can clearly tell by the poster and the trailer that you’ll be transported into a whimsical world filled with magic and singing. It’s really nice to see that those elements still live on in this light-hearted follow-up, but like most sequels, it’s far from practically perfect. The film’s plot had plenty of charm and imagination that the original was known for and its messages were smartly portrayed for people of all ages. However, it also had plenty of elements that may remind you of either the original or the other live-action reimaginings from Disney, such as “Christopher Robin”. Even though the story was highly unoriginal, the film worked wonders in continuing the story of its predecessor and maintaining its sense of fun and delight in the process. One of my personal highlights of the film was Emily Blunt as the title character. She was absolutely brilliant in terms of her performance and her singing. She was able to fully capture the cleverness of Mary Poppins as well as her lady-like behavior, similar to how Julie Andrews portrayed her in the first film. Lin-Manuel Miranda also did very well in his role as Jack, a lamplighter who joins Poppins and the Banks children on their series of misadventures. Much like Blunt, Miranda proved that his acting is just as entertaining and heartwarming as his singing. Like the original, “Mary Poppins Returns” is a musical filled with colorful settings, toe-tapping songs, and some impressive choreography. Rob Marshall was able to make the Broadway-inspired musical numbers feel so alive and vibrant and the songs were pretty enjoyable to listen to despite them not being able to surpass the ones from the original. The film also had a sequence that combines live-action with traditional 2D animation, and it was definitely a sight to behold, especially the Music Hall scene. As for its flaws, aside from its familiar elements, the film did run a bit longer than it should, clocking in at around two hours and 10 minutes. Its pacing and energetic songs helped prevent the kids from nodding off, but there were a couple of scenes that I believe may have overstayed their welcome.
Overall, “Mary Poppins Returns” is a magical experience that offers a spoonful of happiness and fun for the whole family. With its endearing cast, entertaining musical numbers, and a story that’s full of charm and wonder, this latest follow-up from Disney is a fantastical trip down memory lane despite falling short of matching the flawless quality from the original. After experiencing a couple of disappointing live-action reimaginings from Disney earlier this year, it’s nice to see the studio bouncing back into shape with this one. If you’re familiar with the first film or if you’re in a mood for some pure Disney magic, this film will definitely lift your spirits, much like how Mary Poppins’ umbrella lifts her up into the air.