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Disney’s Mary Poppins Returns Movie Review

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We are living in an age where classic and beloved films are either getting remade or getting sequels. The latest film to follow in that trend is Mary Poppins Returns, a sequel to the 1964 Disney classic, Mary Poppins. The film, which is directed by Rob Marshall, sees Emily Blunt become the magical nanny herself, while Lin Manuel Miranda joins her as the charming lamplighter, Jack. Rounding out the cast are Ben Winshaw and Emily Mortimer as the grown-up Banks children, Michael and Jane. Michael’s children are portrayed by Pixie Davies (Annabel), Nathanael Saleh (John) and Joel Dawson (Georgie). The Banks’ lifelong housekeeper, Ellen, is portrayed in this film by Julie Walters, while the villainous banker, William Wilkins is played by Colin Firth. The story goes as follows: after suffering a personal tragedy, Michael struggles to keep up with his loan payments and finds himself a few days away from losing his home. As Michael struggles to keep his family’s life from going into further disarray, Mary Poppins flies back into the Banks’ home to try and bring hope back into their lives. 

The performances should be the first thing to be commended. Emily Blunt is perfectly cast as Mary Poppins and truly made the character her own. It never seemed like she was trying to imitate what Julie Andrews did in the original. This new iteration of Mary Poppins is a bit more sarcastic and more sure of herself, which makes her more fun. We get to learn a little bit more about her, which helps see her more as a person rather than a magical being. Lin Manuel Miranda’s Jack is a gleeful lamplighter who helps the Banks children as they begin their adventure with Mary Poppins. His role is similar to that of Dick van Dyke’s Bert in the original film, but Jack is given a bigger story arc which allows him to be more involved with other characters aside from the Banks children. Miranda, who made a name for himself with the Broadway hits In the Heights and Hamilton, is given a chance to use all of his talents through various musical numbers. Lastly, Ben Winshaw and Emily Mortimer do a fantastic job at incorporating traits of young Michael and Jane Banks into these adult versions of them. Winshaw in particular delivers a surprising amount of emotion that helps anchor the film and remind us that there is actually a lot at stake in this story.

 

One of the most jaw-dropping aspects of Mary Poppins Returns is how perfectly it blends animation and reality together. Every time the characters travel to a magical place, the animation style is different depending on where they go, but one thing that never changes between them is how flawless they all look. Everything in the film looks gorgeous, from the set to the incredibly detailed costumes, thus making Mary Poppins Returns one of the most visually stunning and aesthetically pleasing films of 2018. It’s more than just about the visuals, however. The music in the film is also about as good as it gets. There are some heartbreaking songs, such as Ben Winshaw’s “A Conversation”, some cheerful songs like “Nowhere to Go But Up”, and even a Vaudeville-type of song that allows Miranda to shine doing what he does best in the song, “A Cover Is Not the Book”. The mix of outstanding visuals and meaningful songs make for a wildly entertaining time.

Hiding underneath all the magic and adventures is a surprising amount of emotion. The Banks family is dealing with multiple tragedies, and the story never loses sight of that. There are big stakes at risk for the family, and this adds an extra layer of concern for them as they go on all these magical adventures. One of the most beautiful aspects of the film is how, despite all of their troubles, the Banks family always sticks together and tries to find a way to get through the dark times. 

As with most films, Mary Poppins Returns has a few issues. One of its biggest flaws is the inclusion of Meryl Streep’s character, Topsy. She’s in the film for one scene, but her entire sequence feels so out of place and inconsequential. The film itself feels a little bit too long, and that might have been alleviated by the omission of her part. I also wish that Colin Firth’s character had more to do. As the villain, it would have been great to get to know him and his motives a little more. He should have had a bigger presence in the film. His character actually works very well within the story, but is simply very underutilized.

Mary Poppins Returns, despite its few issues, is a delightful film. The cast is incredible, the songs are fun and emotional, and the visuals are awe-inspiring. Expect it to be big player in this awards season, particularly in the Best Actress, Best Song, Best Cinematography and Best Picture race. Quite frankly, Mary Poppins Returns is the type of feel-good movie that we need right now, the type of movie that has the power fill audiences with pure joy, and that alone is worth the price of admission. It may have a few stumbles along the way, but they are completely outdone by how outstanding the rest of the film is. The end result is a movie that is practically perfect in every way.

Mary Poppins Returns
DIRECTOR: Rob Marshall
STUDIO: Disney
GENRE: Family, Musical
MPAA: PG
RELEASE DATE: December 19 2018
AUTHOR: Eddie Lopez
Eddie Lopez Eduardo Lopez grew up in the hot deserts of the Imperial Valley (El Centro, CA) but now resides in San Diego. Eddie is a recent graduate from San Diego State University with a degree in Television, Film, and New Media. He grew up on classic horror movies but loves movies of every genre and every decade. Aside from talking about movies, Eddie enjoys writing screenplays and hopes to one day have one of his scripts made into an actual film.