Thursday, December 20, 2018

Mary Poppins Returns

My initial reaction to the news of Disney's decision to make a sequel to Marry Poppins was something along the lines of "No, no, no, no, no, no. No." Although it may not quite measure up to the original, Mary Poppins Returns does succeed in capturing the spirit of the first film and delivers a magical treat for audiences this Christmas.

Stepping into the shoes of Julie Andrews for the title role is Emily Blunt as the magical nanny returns to help the grown-up Banks children (Ben Whishaw and Emily Mortimer). More successful than something like Hook, Mary Poppins Returns still deals with some of the same themes involving growing up and loosing the childlike wonder that makes life worth living. Blunt is terrific in some inspired casting. Although the songs of the sequel don't measure up to the original (there's only a single number here even approaching the energy of "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" or "Chim Chim Cher-ee") the songs we do get help tell the story of the Banks children (Pixie Davies, Nathanael Saleh, and Joel Dawson) and their introduction to Mary Poppins' magical world.

While the race to save the family home feels a bit cookie-cutter (complete with the obligatory race to the finish), and the subplot between Mortimer and Lin-Manuel Miranda never really gets going, the plot involving Michael's struggle as a single father after loosing his wife, and how that affects his children, hits just the right notes (forcing the children to grow-up a bit too fast and Michael to forget too much of the joy Mary Poppins showed him all those years ago). The most touching musical moment of the film is in the short reprise of "The Place Where Lost Things Go" led by the movie's youngest cast member. Delivering more magic than I expected, Mary Poppins Returns turns out to be a worthy sequel and some much needed quality lighthearted holiday fare.

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