WHAT IT'S ABOUT:
In depression-era London, a now grown Jane and Michael Banks, along with Michael's three children, are visited by the enigmatic Mary Poppins following a personal loss. Through her unique magical skills, with the aid of her friend Jack, she helps the family rediscover the joy and wonder missing in their lives.
WHAT WE THOUGHT:
Mary Poppins has swept back into town, riding a whimsical breeze and is ready to enchant a whole new generation of kids in a new film starring Emily Blunt and Lin Manuel Miranda. I know what you’re thinking… ‘This is just another rehashing of a classic film’, but Mary Poppins Returns, is a great movie all on its own, without needing to rely on the original (too much).
Its success comes as a relief because there was a lot riding on getting this fantastical family romp right. Other than a ton of studio money and careers on the line, the original Mary Poppins was a vital part of many people’s childhoods, some of which (like me) grew up with a cinematic Julie Andrews, as the closest thing they’d ever get to a magical au pair.
I was so in love with the original flick that I grew up carrying the Mary Poppins VHS tape around with me, wherever I went, convincing my parents’ friends to let me put my worn-out videotape into their player and ignore the world for a few hours, because interacting with the real world made me miserable. The wonder of the musical numbers took my breath away and made me want to be involved in writing books. That dream never worked out, but hey, it’s still a fun memory.
What’s great about this new version is that it pays homage to the original, while still creating a world of its own, all thanks to the hard work of Emily Blunt. Her opening number – which I won’t spoil for you with details - was the aquatic stuff of dreams and made me smile, at the end of a very tough day. Better still, Emily gives the famous character a bit more bite that she had previously by quipping one liner after one liner that made the older members of the audience laugh out loud.
Lin-Manuel Miranda has fantastic chemistry with Emily and the two of them made me feel like I stepped into their multifaceted world, that is full of fun and where anything is possible. Assisting both actors in their roles was some fantastic choreography that I can only imagine would be part of a Mary Poppins film.
All that is not to say that the film is without fault, I just mean that its sheer hopefulness is worth the price of admission.