MARY POPPINS RETURNS and Brings All The Magic With It

Who would’ve thought releasing a sequel 54yrs after the original would not only be popular but will also be a roaring box-office success. The story continues 20yrs following the original and I attended a screening because I loved the original passionately and because Emily Blunt is one of my queens of cinema, will see her in anything. You are all in for a lot of family fun when MARY POPPINS RETURNS on New Year’s Day in Australia.

MARY POPPINS RETURNS is being released by The Galactic Empire, otherwise known as Disney. It is rated G and runs for 130 glorious toe-tapping minutes.


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Emily Blunt is Mary Poppins, Joel Dawson is Georgie, Pixie Davies is Annabel and Nathanael Saleh is John

BY JASON KING

MARY POPPINS RETURNS SYNOPSIS:

In Depression-era London, a now-grown Jane and Michael Banks, along with Michael’s three children, are visited by the enigmatic Mary Poppins following a personal loss. Through her unique magical skills, and with the aid of her friend Jack, she helps the family rediscover the joy and wonder missing in their lives.


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Jack (Lin-Manuel Miranda), Annabel (Pixie Davies), Georgie (Joel Dawson), John (Nathanael Saleh) and Mary Poppins (Emily Blunt)

MARY POPPINS RETURNS RECAPTURED MY CHILDHOOD GLEE:

The childhood glee from watching the original returned to me, my grinchiness unfroze for 2hrs of cinematic wonder. MARY POPPINS, CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG and PETE’S DRAGON. Childhood films from this era that still put a huge smile on my face. Oh, we better throw in Julie Andrew’s other classic, THE SOUND OF MUSIC. It was pure Hollywood studio musical for the entire family and it was wonderful, it was fantasy, and it was part of my childhood happiness.

MARY POPPINS RETURNS recaptures the essence of this childhood magic perfectly. It feels like it was made in the 60s and it flawlessly recreates the wonderful world of the brolly-flying nanny. The story is close to perfection, the set pieces are fabulously over the top screaming of a mind-blowing budget and most of the songs are sublime and will be musical numbers people will know for years. To be honest, the only song that I felt let the movie down was the opening number, it felt flat and lacked the opening this film deserved. Emily Blunt sings quite a few songs and “The Place Where Lost Things Go” actually made me shed a tear.

The choreography of the dance numbers is spellbinding and the older style of blending hand drawn animation with live action will have you clapping on the inside to the throwback. If you take young kids, expect to be joining them for some dancing in the aisles.

MARY POPPINS IS A HOGWARTS GRADUATE:

Now hear me out. In the movie she uses a port key and her relative, Topsy, has her shop located in a place that looks remarkably like Diagon Alley. These were the two glaring links to the wizarding school but as Mary never explains anything and everything she does is magical, all the clues line up. She is a Master Wizard of Dumbledore’s league, but more a witch in a bottle, called upon when needed.

NOT THE IDEAL LESSON ON HOUSING AFFORDABILITY:

One minor let down from the film is the message of their dilemma. The family is facing eviction due to not being able to pay the mortgage. The outcome they hold hope for being a rich relative. Not an ideal message for the youth of today. They need to learn they will never be able to afford homing in Sydney, or London, and they should have ended up in a studio apartment with five people in a poor suburb haha. Not in this frilly musical thank you.


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Emily Blunt

GREAT CAST, BUT NO ONE IS AS GOOD AS JULIE ANDREWS:

MARY POPPINS RETURNS has a LOT of cast. Three children, one lead, four minor adult leads and abundant cameos. It is amazing how much talent is in the film. 

The children are just fantastic; cute kids, great deliveries. Emily Mortimer and Ben Whishaw, as the grown up Banks kids from the original, are good familiar faces as the “parental units.” Lin-Manuel Miranda as Jack, the lamplighter is a wonderful talented musical performer with a CV to make the theatre crowd applaud. And Julie Walters is wonderful as Ellen, the cook? Housekeeper? But I would have liked more of her, her abundant talent was shelved to supporting. 

Colin Firth delivered as the English banking bad guy, Hugh Grant must have been unavailable. And there are two cameos in the movie that light up the screen. One will see a much older actor from the original movie return and one will see a DEVIL WEARS PRADA reunion that steals the entire movie. But I won’t mention any more – you need to experience them for yourself.

EMILY BLUNT’S POPPINS:

And finally there is the leading lady, the wonderful Emily Blunt. She fits the role, she sings and dances amicably and you will love her but she is not even close to the amazement that is, or was, Julie Andrews. Comparing the two is unavoidable and in this comparison Blunt suffers. She does it all, she ticks all the boxes but, at times, you can see she is acting and hitting her marks, to Andrews it was natural and it was beautiful. Andrews WAS Mary Poppins, Blunt is acting Mary Poppins. It’s nothing bad, it just hits 70%.


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Jane (Emily Mortimer), John (Nathanael Saleh), Annabel (Pixie Davies, Ellen (Julie Walters), Jack (Lin-Manuel Miranda), Georgie (Joel Dawson) and Mary Poppins (Emily Blunt)

IN CONCLUSION:

MARY POPPINS RETURNS will be one of the best family films of this festive season. I cried, I laughed and I returned to a childhood glee I had 40yrs ago. The music, sets, choreography and cast are superb but Blunt is no Andrews, as marvelous as she is onscreen. Given what we have, it’s probably the best outcome for a sequel Disney could have asked for. 




YOUR CRITIC:

Jason King owns, writes and edits Salty Popcorn and Spooning Australia. He is a movie, food, restaurant, wine, chocolate, bacon, burger and brussels sprouts addict. He is a member of the Australian Film Critics Association and has been in the Australian movie industry for 26yrs. Furthermore he loves watching people trip over and is Leonardo DiCaprio’s biggest fan. 

** Images used are courtesy of various sources on Google or direct from the distributor or publisher. Credit has been given to photographers where known – images will be removed on request.