Mary Poppins Returns — the sequel to the 1964 cult phenomenon starring Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke — hit theaters the week before Christmas starring Emily Blunt and Lin-Manuel Miranda. Megan Prevost reviews it with 4/5 stars.
In 1964, the world was blessed with the magic of Mary Poppins, starring Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke. Fifty-four years later, we have been given a sequel: Mary Poppins Returns.. This time, however, the film stars Emily Blunt and Lin-Manuel Miranda in the roles of Mary Poppins and Jack, a duo who bring a magic to the characters that put a smile on my face for a straight two hours.
In Mary Poppins Returns, Michael and Jane Banks (Ben Wishaw and Emily Mortimer), who appeared as the children the magical nanny first arrived to care for in the original film (at the time played by Karen Dotrice and Matthew Garber) are all grown up. When we meet them again in the sequel, Michael is dealing with the loss of his wife as two bank lawyers knock on his door. The lawyers arrive to share with him even more bad news: Michael is three months late on his mortgage and has five days to pay the remainder of his loan, otherwise the bank is going to take away the house. In a frantic rage, he goes in search of his father’s certificate of shares with his sister Jane’s help. In the meantime, Michael’s three children, Anabel, John, and Georgie (Pixie Davies, Nathanael Saleh, and Joel Dawson) head to the grocery store; along the way, Georgie stumbles upon a kite in the park. On the other end it is Mary Poppins, descending down to earth. Mary Poppins (Blunt) shows the kids her magic with the help Jack (Miranda), a former apprentice of Poppins’ old friend Bert from the original film. Throughout the remainder of the film, the family tries to find a way to save the house while Mary and Jack instill magic in the family’s life once more.
To start, Lin-Manuel Miranda was the reason I went to see this movie. I have been a fan of him ever since my first time listening to the cast recording of his Broadway blockbuster, Hamilton. Anything he’s been in, I’ve needed to see. Otherwise, I’m not so sure that I would have gone. Disney sequels are famously not the best. Aside from Incredibles 2, there have been quite a few pitfalls — see: Cars 2 or any non-Pixar, direct-to-video sequel of a princess story. That being said, I went in without hope or much expectation. I knew getting to hear Miranda sing would be the highlight of the movie; and in general, I was right. The music was by far the best part of the entire film. But as an aside from the music, every scene was so well laid out; from the costumes to the choreography, everything was just so magical.
Fifty-four years later, what might have seemed like a pipe dream of a sequel had the same feel as the first movie that maybe only a character like Mary Poppins could bring to the cinema. It made me want to curl up with a bowl of soup on a rainy day. It was the kind of movie that brought a smile to my face, the kind of movie that kept a smile on my face for just over two hours. The characters were fun to watch, especially with the concept of the aging of the younger characters from the original movie. I’ve always liked storylines like these, with adults who have forgotten about the magic from their younger years as real life has jaded their innocence. There’s something comforting about seeing them remember everything they had long since forgotten. And that’s what this movie was to me, a comfort, as that’s what the original was to a lot of people. It was sort of a rainy day, heartwarming movie. Mary Poppins Returns didn’t fail to capture that same heartwarming magic with each and every musical number.
Though, I must say, it is quite a long movie. It runs just over two hours long and there are definitely a few places where it feels like it’s dragging on unnecessarily. Some of the musical numbers, while incredibly fun to watch, do feel slightly too long. The story, for me, wasn’t the highlight of this movie, and therefore some parts of it didn’t feel that exciting to watch. But, the music, the spectacle, and the sheer joyful tone of the movie, made up for that exponentially.
If you’re a fan of the original Mary Poppins, I definitely suggest going to see this one. It captures the same magic, and you will definitely smile as you watch it. However, if you’re not a fan of musicals (why are you here?) you probably won’t enjoy it. There is, of course, a lot of song and dance. And if you’re a fan of that, you will really enjoy this movie. And if you’re a fan of Lin-Manuel Miranda, you will leave with a warm heart and a smile on your face. As for Emily Blunt, I didn’t expect her to do as good a job as she did. She perfectly embodied the spirit of Julie Andrews and Mary Poppins. I couldn’t have asked for anything better. This movie was a wonderful light in an otherwise upsetting world. It felt like, at the very least, a distraction. If that’s something you need — to be distracted for a few hours or an escape from reality, to smile at laugh at silly music — this movie was made for you.