Mary Poppins Returns
Jacob Richardson | 07/01/2018
A joyous burst of happiness on this year’s big screen.
Decades after her original visit, Mary Poppins (Emily Blunt) returns to the Banks’ household when creditors loom. The children she once helped have children of their own, and Poppins must take care of them while their father and aunt try to save the family house from a vengeful banker. Then again, maybe she’ll have to take care of the father and aunt too!
Mary Poppins Returns manages to capture the magic of the first, while also utilising modern advances in technology to update and transform magical set pieces, regularly fusing old and new techniques into a blend of pure joy.
There are an array of disgustingly catchy tunes, from the early introductory ‘Can You Imagine That?’ to the jointly styled ‘A Cover Is Not The Book’. The music (often heavily inspired by Lin Manuel-Miranda’s work on Hamilton) frequently induces bursts of toe-tapping, and you’ll be likely humming a tune as you leave the theatre.
Where Mary Poppins Returns really excels though is in the narrative depiction. Director Rob Marshall has managed to bring to life the written work of screenwriter David McGee by ensuring that the childish joy is never lost or overshadowed by plot, yet is undeniably anchored in a strong, if not a particularly unusual, one.
As the now grown up Michael and Jane Banks, Ben Whishaw and Emily Mortimer are pitch perfect. Whishaw exemplifies the once-enlightened man fallen from grace, while Mortimer captures the inspired dreamer one would expect would grow out of the events of the first Mary Poppins.
Colin Firth is delightfully nasty as the Wilkins (pulling double duty as the Wolf too), and Lin Manuel Miranda manages to infuse his lamplighter character with fun and grit, capturing a bit of the live-by-the-seat-of-your-pants, anything to survive nature of the working class of the time, while also never breaking the illusion of perfection that is London in this film.
Emily Blunt is, however, far and away the standout of the piece. With a stunning voice, and perfectly capturing the wry charm, humor and excitement of Poppins, Blunt really enlivens the movie and elevates into a realm worthy of its predecessor.
The one sore point if Meryl Streep’s Cousin Topsy, and the odd sequence performed in her fix-it-shop. As baffling as it’s inclusion is, it’s execution is stunningly worse. The only relief is that, honestly, by the time the movie ends you will have forgotten it.
A pair of great cameos towards the end undoubtedly go a long way to dispelling any missteps, but really it is much more simple than that; Mary Poppins Returns is just so darned charming, so effervescently fun, and so undeniably sincere, that you can’t help but leave the theatre loving it.
A worthy resurrection of an iconic character, Mary Poppins Returns is fun, charming and heartfelt.