Mary Poppins Returns
Emily Blunt replaces Julie Andrews as the iconic magical nanny in Rob Marshall's sequel.
The original Mary Poppins, which was released in 1964, has a special place in the hearts of many, so director Rob Marshall had an almost impossible task on his hands in trying to make a worthy sequel that would please fans of the first one. Yet, somehow, he has managed to pull it off.
Emily Blunt replaces Julie Andrews as Mary Poppins, who flies down from the skies to help the Banks family at 17 Cherry Tree Lane in London once again. This time around, it is a grown-up Michael Banks (Ben Whishaw) who needs a hand - he is recently widowed, trying to look after his three children John, Anabel and Georgie (Nathanael Saleh, Pixie Davies and Joel Dawson) and on the brink of losing their beloved home.
Mary swoops in and helps the children, as well as Michael, his sister Jane (now played by Emily Mortimer) and housekeeper Ellen (Julie Walters), see the joy and wonder in life again with the help of her lamplighter friend Jack (Lin-Manuel Miranda).
This sequel is extremely loyal to the original, with the plot essentially following Mary and Jack as they take the three children on magical adventures, including an underwater sequence to encourage them to take a bath and a segment in which they go into a world created by hand-drawn animation, much like the original.
However, the film lacks the memorable songs that the first one had - there is nothing on the catchy, iconic level of Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious or A Spoonful of Sugar. The tunes here are all nice enough but nothing is likely to become an earworm, although tracks such as A Cover is Not the Book and Trip a Little Light Fantastic are accompanied by spectacular song and dance sequences that are the highlights of the film.
Blunt had a tough job taking on such an iconic role but she nails it completely and deserves all her award nominations. She is perfect - from her posh accent and clipped, speedy delivery, her gorgeous costumes to her singing and dancing. She is given the best lines and is the funniest member of the cast.
Another stand out is Whishaw, who is given the task of grounding the story in reality. While the others are off in magical worlds, Michael is grieving and despairing over his home, and his emotional performance could bring a tear to the eye.
There was strong support all round. It is a joy to see Miranda in his biggest movie role yet, but it's uncertain whether his dodgy Cockney accent is deliberate or not. Elsewhere, the three kids are adorable and super smart, Meryl Streep has a small, fun part as Mary's wacky cousin, Colin Firth plays the evil head of the bank who schemes to get his hands on the Banks' home, while Dick Van Dyke, who played Bert in the original, has a wonderful all-singing and dancing cameo.
Viewers will likely have a smile on their face the entire way through because Mary Poppins Returns is so uplifting, life-affirming and full of joy and wonder. It is not perfect, but it will win over the hearts of many. Considering what it had to live up to, the fact it wasn't disappointing is impressive in itself.
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