Mary Poppins Returns Review

Mary Poppins Returns - Emily Blunt Character Poster

If you’ve ever seen Saving Mr. Banks then you know the hardship that Walt Disney went through in order to get P.L. Travers to give her blessing on Mary Poppins. Although he eventually got his wish, P.L. Travers ultimately hated the film. So Travers made the decision to never again have her precious Mary Poppins adapted on screen ever again. Therefore, it comes as a huge surprise to find out that Walt Disney Studios is once again creating another Mary Poppins film. But is Mary Poppins Returns able to bring back the magic of the original fifty years later?

In a way, it does. Mary Poppins Returns doesn’t quite reach the same stratospheric height as the original but it’s a musical spectacle that’ll definitely delight people of all ages.

Mary Poppins Returns follows Michael Banks who is going through a really rough patch. Not only is he raising his children alone but his family home is in danger of being repossessed too. In dire need of help, a familiar face comes from the sky in order to get Michael’s family back on track once again.

Mary Poppins Returns - Emily Mortimer, Ben Whishaw, and Emily Blunt

Needless to say, creating a sequel to a timeless classic is an extremely tall task. However, creating a sequel to a Disney timeless classic is nearly impossible to do. Although the film doesn’t quite reach the same heights as the original, that doesn’t make it a bad sequel. In fact, Mary Poppins Returns is quite good. The film is as magical and imaginative as the original. There’s an inherent charm to the film as far as modern Disney musicals go. However, the childlike playfulness of the original seems to be missing from this version. It just goes to show you how much Walt Disney’s influence is sorely missed from this film. Instead, this feels more like a run-of-the-mill flashy Hollywood musical than a Mary Poppins film.

Speaking of musical, the music in Mary Poppins Returns isn’t as good as the original either. It’s not really that surprising since the original had so many classics from the Sherman brothers. Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman do their very best in tapping into the spirit of the Sherman brothers’ songs. While half of the original songs aren’t that catchy, the other half are all gems. They include “Nowhere to Go But Up,” “The Place Where Lost Things Go,” “A Conversation,” “(Underneath the) Lovely London Sky,” and “Trip a Little Light Fantastic.”

The one thing that Mary Poppins Returns gets right is with its focus on the story. The plot for the film is both sad and very heartfelt. The story takes Jane and Michael Banks into some really sad places. Of course, this sad story is the reason why Mary Poppins does come back into their lives. They need help more than ever.

Mary Poppins Returns - Emily Blunt and Lin-Manuel Miranda

But the development of the main storyline comes to a standstill when the film reaches into one of its musical numbers. As a result, the film doesn’t flow as well as it should. At the same time, the musical numbers follow a similar story beat to the original film. Of course, if you’re a fan, you’ll recognize some of the similarities between the original and this one. In addition, there are certain side stories that never really fully develop in the film. Thus, it makes you wonder if they’re saving the film for a potential third film.

Regardless, Emily Blunt does a fantastic job as the new Mary Poppins. Of course, no one can ever, ever, ever, EVER replace Dame Julie Andrews as Mary Poppins. However, she does a great job keeping the spirit of the character intact. Her mannerisms, quick wit, and subtle sarcasm are alive and well in Blunt’s performance. Lin-Manuel Miranda also does a great job being a sidekick to Mary Poppins. Much like Dick Van Dyke’s Bert, he’s simply there to provide musical and storyline support. Regardless, he still provides an immensely better British accent than poor Dick Van Dyke.

Ben Whishaw is easily the film’s biggest standout, performance wise. He provides so much emotion and heart to the film as many of the film’s heartbreaking scenes come from him. Of course, our feelings toward his performance is only amplified by the fact that he’s playing Michael Banks. Colin Firth gives a pleasing performance as the villain of the film. He’s able to play two sides to his character, a devious one, and a kind and gentle one.

Overall, Mary Poppins Returns is an extravagant and enchanting sequel to a timeless classic. The film doesn’t quite come close to the same height as the original, but then again, the film does improve on the original through the wonders of modern storytelling. It’s safe to say that Mary Poppins Returns brings back magic and imagination to theaters once again. It’s good to see you again, Mary.

Rating: 4/5 atoms

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Mark Pacis
Mark Pacis 1613 posts

Self-proclaimed "Human IMDb" and comic book geek. Biggest Iron Man fan you'll probably ever meet.