By: Allyson Hampton
The movie box office blew up in the last month of 2018 with films like Aquaman, Bumblebee and Holmes and Watson. One notable and greatly anticipated movie that joined them was Disney’s Mary Poppins Returns, directed by Rob Marshall.
Mary Poppins comes back after a 30 year hiatus to help the Banks family amidst the great depression. Michael Banks, played by Ben Whishaw, has grown up and now has three charming children as a widower. While he’s trying to raise his family with the help of his sister, Jane, played by Emily Mortimer, he can’t seem to make enough money to sustain their family and must turn to a savings bond his father had to save his childhood home. And this is where Mary Poppins, played wonderfully by Emily Blunt, comes in help the Banks children, both in their youth, along with the grown ups. She and Jack, a lamplighter played by Lin-Manuel Miranda, reintroduce the children to the magic that had disappeared after their mother died and lighten up their lives again, in the way only Mary Poppins can.
With a star-studded supporting cast, including Dick Van Dyke, Angela Lansbury, Meryl Streep, Colin Firth, and more, it’s no wonder the movie did well in box offices all around the world.
The story line was inspired by Mary Poppins author P. L. Travers’ other Mary Poppins books, and some characters were directly taken from her stories, but many liberties were taking in the movie.
And while the story makes sense and is well paced, it is foremost a musical, and some of the songs feel thrown into the plot just so it can earn that classification. This wouldn’t be such a problem if the songs were fantastic, but they were lackluster, despite the lustrous productions surrounding the songs. With Lin-Manuel Miranda in the cast, we expect to hear him rap and sing with his famous pipes, but all of the fast pace songs sounded the same and were hard to understand, contrary to the original Mary Poppins’ classic songs that are still famous and loved.
Like the original Mary Poppins, characters travel into a cartoon land for part of the movie, and this is done in the same style as the original. The whole set of the movie was well done and recreated Cherry Tree Lane nicely.
Emily Blunt took advantage of her role of Mary Poppins to show off her English wit and poshness, while maintaining the spoonful of fun that is hinted at in the original. In one song, however, she takes on a harsher Cockney accent and even suggests a vulgarity that Julie Andrews’ Mary Poppins would have been quite disgusted with. The actress has gone from her role in the “A Quiet Place” to a loud musical showing off her talent in diverse roles. Her singing is beautiful and she has the perfect look of Mary Poppins, despite the differences she imbues in Mary Poppins’ character.
So did they “Trip a Little Light Fantastic” with this movie, or has this movie proved Disney now has “Nowhere to Go But Up?” If you’re looking for an exciting, well cast, over the top movie, this is a great choice, but if you’re looking for a wonderful sequel to Mary Poppins, remember “The Cover Is Not the Book,” in this case.
I would give this movie 3 ½ out of 5 rating.