So. Many. Brits.
Now a grown-up with three children of his own, Michael Banks (Ben Whishaw) is a bank-teller who is in a bit of a rut. As most were in the Great Depression, Michael may lose his house in five days if he can’t pay back his loan in-full by the stroke of midnight on Friday, which isn’t so easy for a father of three who’s barely making ends meet as it is. And it’s a shame too, because ever since his wife died earlier in the year, Michael has had his hands full with John (Nathanael Saleh), Annabel (Pixie Davies) and Georgie (Joel Dawson), his kids who are struggling to keep their imaginations afloat and attitudes positive during this troubling time. But when they’re going through the attic, they notice an old, patched-up kite that happens to make its way outside and up in the sky, carried by the wind. When it comes down, who should return with it? Well, it’s Mary Poppins (Emily Blunt), supernanny and song and dance enthusiast who will hopefully bring back some order, as well as fun, into the Banks family.
It’s easy to be a tad disappointed with Mary Poppins Returns because, after all, it is pretty much just a remake of the original classic, but with a few different variations, new songs that aren’t meant to be new placeholders of the old ones, and an entirely different cast that also seems to be placeholders of the original. But for some reason, despite this lack of pure originality and freshness, it still kind of works; the songs are infectiously fun, the story still resonates, and this new ensemble is purely delightful.
And really, “delightful” is the only word to really describe Mary Poppins Returns.
Director Rob Marshall knows his way in and around a musical, which is why he works best when the song-and-dance numbers are on the screen. They’re exciting, wacky, wild, wonderful, bright, beautiful, and stunning in ways that you wouldn’t expect. As mentioned previously, every song here is meant to be the new take on an older, more recognizable song from the original, and of course, not every one is a keeper, but mostly, they stay enjoyable. It’s almost impossible to recreate a song with the same cultural impact as “Chim Chim Cher-ee”, or especially “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious”, but Mary Poppins Returns does what it can to come very close and in ways, gives us new songs that may be hummed for many years to come.
And if not, that’s okay. For the time being that they’re on the screen, they do what all good musicals should do: Get your feet tapping, your hands clapping, and smiles on your faces. In that sense, Mary Poppins Returns works cause that’s all it needed to. Sure, there are hints at a deeper, darker, and perhaps more interesting story that has to deal with death, grief, depression, the Great Depression, poverty, and countless other heavy subjects not normally seen in family-fun entertainment, but Mary Poppins Returns isn’t that movie, really.
Anyone expecting more, which I’ve been seeing that people have been doing, is probably in the wrong theater.
But hey, like I said, if you’re looking to watch Emily Blunt and Lin-Manuel Miranda ham it up effortlessly for the camera, then hey, you’re absolutely in the right place! Cause ham it up, is exactly what they do! More so Miranda than Blunt, though; his awfully goofy and star-eyed performance may have been hard-to-watch anywhere else, but because Mary Poppins Returns is already a goofy and light movie, it works more in its favor than actually against it. And even then, Miranda’s showy-accent and performance, may be much more of a take on Dick Van Dyke’s from the original, so hey, maybe he’s just doing what was passed onto him.
And as for Blunt who, by now everyone already knows to be a supreme talent, shows off more charm and spunk than I’ve seen from her in years. She’s awfully stern and serious, but not without a pinch of wit and a kick in her step, and while it’s definitely easy to compare her to Julie Andrews, that’s not really the point – she’s not necessarily doing an impersonation, as much as she’s doing her own take on the character and yes, it still works. So kudos to her for taking on this role, even though the millions-upon-millions of trolls will already be holding her up to quite a high-standard.
The high-standard that, in this case, is just unnecessary and wrong. So bugger off and enjoy, you twits!
Consensus: While it no doubt is nowhere near as classic as the original, Mary Poppins Returns still holds much of the same charm, wit, and delight of it, with a great ensemble to continue on the lovely legacy.
7.5 / 10
Photos Courtesy of: Walt Disney Pictures