Some stories are timeless and never lose their magic. Mary Poppins Returns can be included in that category, as it is as whimsically wonderful as the Julie Andrews-led original. The sequel doesn’t miss a beat from its 54-year-old predecessor and is the perfect film for all ages. The best way to describe Mary Poppins Returns is to simply say it is fun to watch.
This new film takes place 25 years after the events of Mary Poppins, with Michael (Ben Whishaw) and Jane Banks (Emily Mortimer) grown up and dealing with life’s struggles. Michael is in desperate need of help after a tumultuous year that leaves him raising his three young children by himself and on the brink of losing the famed Banks family home. Enter Mary Poppins (Emily Blunt), who returns to once again help the Banks children and play nanny to the youngest members of the family. The underlying story of Michael and Jane searching frantically to find the document of ownership for shares in the bank to use as payment for the house does tend to drag the film down. It slows down the pace and adds unnecessary time to the already lengthy runtime.
However, the moments with Mary Poppins teaching the kids valuable life lessons through magical adventures and toe-tapping songs are fantastic. New sidekick, and lamplighter, Jack (Lin-Manuel Miranda) is also along for the ride and helps give the film that peppy flare that Dick Van Dyke added to the original. The visual effects and classic 2D animation help make all of the scenes special and will put a huge smile on your face. The effects are pretty great and bring the quirky screenplay to life. The cinematography beautifully captures the wonderfully designed sets and fantastic song-and-dance numbers. Some of the sequences are so well shot and performed that you might find yourself thinking that Mary Poppins Returns is similar to watching a Broadway show.
This film would not be great without Emily Blunt in the titular role. Blunt’s excellent performance and interpretation of Mary Poppins makes the film. Everything about her performance is spectacular. Blunt’s, well, bluntness in portraying Mary Poppins works as a perfect foil to Miranda’s super cheery disposition. They make a great pair in and out of musical numbers. Miranda gives a very good performance as well and gets many moments to show off his many talents. Both Blunt and Miranda show off their voices in the wonderfully written songs. The score and songs are very indicative of the original film without relying on, or using, the old music.
While there are some slow moments throughout, Mary Poppins Returns is an overall triumph and great sequel. This film could easily have not lived up to the original, but it exceeds all expectations. Van Dyke’s cameo also brings the story full circle and adds another magical moment to a great film. Making another Mary Poppins film could not have been easy, so I have a huge amount of respect for all involved. The joy and happiness that Mary Poppins Returns brings makes it a great movie to see this holiday season.
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