Mary Poppins Returns (2018)
Directed by Rob Marshall
Based on characters and stories by P.L. Travers
Screenplay by David Magee, Rob Marshall, John DeLuca
Starring: Emily Blunt, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Ben Whishaw, Emily Mortimer, Meryl Streep, Colin Firth, Pixie Davies, Nathanael Saleh, Joel Dawson
Jane (Mortimer) and Michael Banks (Whishaw) might be grown up; but hard times have left them struggling. When she returns, they find that they need Mary Poppins (Blunt) more than ever.
This film is a sequel to the classic Disney film Mary Poppins, coming 54 years after that movie first hit the big screen. This one was written by David Magee (Life of Pi), Rob Marshall (Chicago), and John DeLuca (Nine). Rob Marshall also directed this one. The central character was created by P.L. Travers, and originally introduced in. The stars of the movie include Emily Blunt (A Quiet Place), Lin-Manuel Miranda (Moana), Ben Whishaw (The Lobster), and Emily Mortimer (Hugo). Meryl Streep (Julia), Colin Firth (The King’s Speech), Pixie Davies (Out of the Dark), Nathanael Saleh (The Snatcher), and Joel Dawson are also featured.
When the writers began with the script for this one, there was a huge amount of built-in pressure. Mary Poppins was successful from the beginning, and has lived on as a classic Disney title. Magee, Marhsall, and DeLuca did a nice job of building a bridge between that film and their own creation. The writing opens up a world that feels like it has a true connection to the original movie. Instead of retelling the original story, this one goes in a different direction. That helps to keep this one from being completely predictable. There are some nice twists and turns, and this one pays off with a solid ending. The story benefits from solid dialogue and some musical numbers that help to advance the story. The end of a movie can’t avoid being at least a little predictable, but the writing made this one entertaining and fun.
The music for this film is wonderfully written. While it’s impossible to know if any of these songs will become classics, they certainly don’t disappoint. The words and music blend together nicely, helping to set the tone of the story. The cast does a great job bringing the songs to life through the characters they are playing. The film earned Oscar nominations for Best Original Song and Best Original Score.
The cast did a great job throughout this one. The acting and musical performance blend together and give this one the whimsical feel that it needed. Blunt tackled a big role when she agreed to play Mary Poppins. Her performance brings out the essence of the character without feeling like an imitation of Julie Andrews’ 1964 performance. Miranda was an excellent choice to play the semi-narrator of the story. He does a great job with every aspect of his role. Mortimer and Whishaw also do a nice job with their parts in this one. The three children hold their own with the stars around them. Streep and Firth also add great work of their own. There are also a number of great surprises in the movie, as some additional cast members make memorable appearances.
This one looks good, but it doesn’t match the look of the original film. That’s one area that this film seems to fall short. There are some sequences that would have worked better if the filmmakers had worked within the same style as the first movie. Their choice to use technology would’ve been fine if it wasn’t going to be compared to a classic film. The addition of bike jumping and acrobatics also feels silly and unnecessary.
It’s always interesting to see a true classic revisited, especially after so many years. This one works more than it doesn’t, and will probably be a hit with most kids too young to know the original. I would suggest this to anyone who likes musicals. Fans of the original should also check it out. Maybe in a few decades this one will be considered a classic. For now it’s not on that level, but it’s still a lot of fun. I give this one 3.7 out of 5 stars.