All hail Emily Blunt!
It took 54 years since the first Mary Poppins movie was released for the universe (which, in this case, is Disney, as they pretty much have complete control of the world at this point) decided we needed a proper sequel to the film, now known as Mary Poppins Returns.
If anything, regardless of how we feel about the overall quality of Mary Poppins Returns, this at least teaches us that it’s never too late for a sequel to be made. That means that, someday, we still might get that Scott Pilgrim vs. the World 2 I so desperately want. Someday.
From Chicago and Into the Woods director Rob Marshall, Mary Poppins Returns is indeed the first sequel to the 1964 classic that starred Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke.
At least, it’s highly regarded as a classic. I, personally, haven’t seen the original Mary Poppins in over a decade and have virtually no memory of what happened in the film, meaning I’m coming at this sequel with no nostalgic ties whatsoever.
In the world of Mary Poppins, it’s been a pretty long time since the Banks children — Michael (Ben Whishaw) and Jane (Emily Mortimer) — have seen their favorite flying nanny, too.
With both of them now in adulthood, Michael has recently fallen on hard times after the passing of his wife. While he’s always tried to keep an upbeat, joyful personality, having to care for his three children — Anabel (Pixie Davis), John (Nathanael Saleh) and Georgie (Joel Dawson) — all by himself hasn’t necessarily been an easy task.
To make matters worse, poor Michael also has to deal with the bank threatening to foreclose on his house after he missed a few rent payments (this is 1930’s London, after all).
All this stressed has caused Michael to become a bit sterner and more work-obsessed than he’d really like to be, with means that — hey, hold on a second. Doesn’t this sound, like, the exact same storyline we saw in Christopher Robin, Hook and a hundred other movies before that? Are we really doing this all over again?
Maybe, I don’t know, we should just stop remaking/rebooting/green-lighting sequels to old movies just for the sake of making money when we don’t actually have anything new or interesting to say? Maybe?
Nonetheless, Mary Poppins (Emily Blunt, who's given some great performances this year between this and A Quiet Place) is once again called down from the heavens as she rejoins the Banks family to teach them a lesson or two about the things that matter the most.
Thus, a whole bunch of nonsense and musical numbers ensue — much like the first movie, if I recall correctly, as Mary Poppins has really never been much than a bunch of animated wackiness and catchy tunes.
Thing is, as far as most people are concerned, that works for the first movie even though having that kind of care-free plot structure is something that’s incredibly difficult to pull off.
Trying to do it again all these years later with Mary Poppins Returns is like trying to catch lighting in the bottle — hence the reason this movie doesn’t work nearly as well as the first one does.
Now, I’d be lying if I said that there wasn’t some fun to be had with Mary Poppins Returns. Both Emily Blunt and Lin-Manuel Miranda, who plays the former apprentice of Bert from the first film, put a lot of energy into their performances which make individual moments work really well in a vacuum.
As a whole, though, Mary Poppins Returns seems so focused on re-telling the same story as before that it really forgets to be it’s own thing.
Instead of being a chimney sweep, Miranda is a cockney lamplighter. Instead of “Let’s Go Fly a Kite,” the movie ends with everyone floating away on balloons. It’s these kind of minor changes, along with some distracting cameos, that show how hellbent this movie is on constantly reminding you how good the first movie was, turning Mary Poppins Returns into the equivalent of a ‘Greatest Hits’ album.
A ‘Greatest Hits’ album with a really weak through-line that I really didn’t care about in the slightest.
To be fair, I did like both Ben Whishaw and Emily Mortimer in the movie. I even liked the three kids, too (even if their singing voices might not be quite up to par with the rest of the cast). Their whole storyline about their dead mother and almost losing the house, though, did absolutely nothing for me. Not only is it a clichéd story that reduces Colin Firth into a mustache twirling villain of sorts, but it also feels slightly manipulative in just how hard it’s trying to evoke emotions out of the audience in regards to the dead mother.
That whole sub-plot really isn’t set-up or told very well, though, making that bit feel like a wet blanket.
I do, however, want to go back to the enjoyable moments that Mary Poppins Returns offers because contrary to all the movie does wrong, I still had a big, dumb grin on my face for a lot of the movie.
As nostalgia-heavy as some of the musical numbers and animated sequences might be, there is a great deal of fun to be had seeing Blunt and Miranda dance around and babble out some incomprehensible phrases. Sure, some of the songs work better than others (I could have done without the Meryl Streep one), but they still capture a certain amount of energy that Mary Poppins Returns desperately needed.
I’m also a fan of the overall look of the film, the costume design and the way that Marshall captures London in general.
The entirety of Mary Poppins Returns (an entirety that’s too long, as they should have cut a good twenty minutes out of this movie) can’t keep up with that same energy. While parts of the movie work — some of them are even borderline brilliant — there’s also a fair amount of moments that really pale in comparison.
Watch the trailer for Mary Poppins Returns here and then let us know, in the comments below, what you thought about the movie!
'Mary Poppins Returns' - She's back in blue [REVIEW]6