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Mary Poppins Returns Movie Review: Disney Brings Back Mary Poppins, Magic and All

Planning to watch Mary Poppins Returns this weekend? Read our review first.

Priyanka Sinha Jha | News18.com

Updated:January 4, 2019, 1:14 PM IST
Mary Poppins Returns Movie Review: Disney Brings Back Mary Poppins, Magic and All
Planning to watch Mary Poppins Returns this weekend? Read our review first.

Mary Poppins Returns

Director: Rob Marshall

Cast: Emily Blunt, Lin-Manuel Miranda and Ben Whishaw

Mary Poppins Returns, is about a magical nanny who makes a comeback after 25 years to set in order the lives of her wards. It is a movie quite evidently designed to please and leave you with a smile on your face. And it succeeds.

Directed by Rob Marshall and based on no particular story from the Mary Poppins book series created by P.L. Travers, the film is cast –and befittingly so--in the mould of the classic Hollywood musicals of the 50s.

Marshall said in an interview, that Mary Poppins had opened him up to magic and music-something that is rather evident in his handling of the film material.

Those expecting a Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious time at the movies will be delighted to watch Marshall’s charming tribute to the original film made in 1964. Even though he doffs his hat to the original, Marshall’s individual directorial flourishes can be seen all over the film. One such example is the recreation of an entire animated sequence (15-minute long sequence which reportedly got a lot of animators out of retirement to make it happen) dedicated to an adventure in the bowl!

In the new version, since Poppins’ last outing as a nanny 25 years back, the Banks children Michael (Ben Whishaw) and Jane (Emily Mortimer) have grown up. In an unfortunate turn of events, Michael Banks, a young widower with an artistic temperament finds himself struggling to bring up his children Annabel (Pixie Davies), John (Nathanael Saleh) and Georgie (Joel Dawson). To make matters worse, Michael has a loan against his Cherry Tree Lane home which is to be paid by the stroke of midnight that very Friday. As for the kids, they are growing up before their time with little room for childlike pursuits. Clearly, the stage is set. There is enough for Mary Poppins to do on her return.

Emily Blunt takes over from Julie Andrews as Mary Poppins and the switch is rather effective. Blunt, digresses from her normally willowy performances and alternates between stern and fun. The children are adorable and Ben Whishaw as Michael, fits the bill.

Colin Firth as the oily banker and Meryl Streep as a sorceress do their bit in adding star power in their small roles while Lin-Manuel Miranda as Jack is impressive on his feet. Dick Van Dyke from the original film is back too in a brief turn as Mr Dawes much to the delight of fans.

For the audience, including those who have watched the 1964 version, the very sight of Mary Poppins on the horizon, holding her umbrella and not a hair out of place, is as reassuring a warm loving embrace. This is vintage Disney --stuff that happened before the superheroes took over the world. When Poppins reprimands Michael (as she did when he was a child) for keeping his mouth open “like a Codfish” and makes her way upstairs, smiling assuredly, you know that things are going to fall firmly into place.

What makes this Disney offering for children, special, is its single-minded attempt to keep matters simple. David Magee’s screenplay keeps the film light and wondrous. The hard times are overcome through magical and serendipitous resolutions, something that is key to fairy tales. Such films are mostly warm and fuzzy often all heart, taking adults back to the idyllic moments of their childhoods. This one too is replete with many helpful reminders for grown-ups. “You’ve forgot what it’s like to be a child” is one such thought weaved into the concluding fantasy sequence in the film. When the children complain about missing their mother, Poppins hums “Nothing’s gone forever, only out of place,” instantly striking an emotional chord.

Marc Shaiman’s music is competent but fails to make it to the top-notch grade that will stay with us for long.

A Hollywood-style musical (think La La Land) allows for a simpler screenplay to make room for the song and dance, but this is the one part that is lacking in an otherwise sparkling film. The story feels laboured in parts and the dance sequences are a tad forced, slowing down an otherwise perfect narrative.

However, the film has enough to be a neat family-entertainer. For those who like their fairy tales served sweet and especially for those who believe in guardian angels, Mary Poppins could well be the default choice.

Rating: 4/5

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