“Mary Poppins Returns” is a Triumphant Addition to the Treasured Classic
When Disney announced the sequel to their beloved 1964 musical film, “Mary Poppins,” the public’s response was mixed. A new movie filled with uplifting songs sounded wonderful, but could it live up to the original?
The answer is yes, but it’s also more than that. “Mary Poppins Returns” is not only a lovely addition to the classic story, but it also stands alone, sure to become a classic in its own right.
The movie stars Emily Blunt as Mary Poppins, and she manages not to shirk at the iconic role, once played by the incredible Julie Andrews. Neither does Lin Manuel Miranda, who’s character Jack is a stand-in for Dick Van Dyke’s Bert. Ben Whishaw and Emily Mortimer take on the roles of grown siblings Michael and Jane Banks, accompanied by Pixie Davies, Nathanael Saleh, and Joel Dawson as Michael’s children. The all-star cast is rounded off with Colin Firth as the president of Fidelity Fiduciary Bank, and Meryl Streep as the hilarious Cousin Topsy.
The story follows the Banks family – made up of Michael, Jane, and Michael’s children, as they attempt to save their home from being repossessed, following the death of Michael’s wife. The story splits between the children’s efforts, aided by Mary Poppins and Jack, and the adult siblings of the original movie as they try to do the same.
Mary Poppins guides the children and the audience through a variety of adventures (and misadventures), each accompanied by a musical performance, often arranged to remind the audience of an actual, on-stage broadway performance. Concepts and choreography are original and enticing, yet still parallel performances from the original movie.
The movie, however, is far from perfect. It has a much darker tone than the original, with songs about dealing with grief and losing a loved one, as well as the backdrop for most of the movie being a grey, foggy London. And don’t expect to hear the word “supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” anytime soon in “Mary Poppins Returns”; while the movie has plenty of it’s own catchy songs, it passes up on opportunities to insert iconic original lines that made the first Mary Poppins so memorable.
“Mary Poppins Returns” is a fun, lively experience, one that both encapsulates the spirit of the original movie while still being its own individual triumph.