Summary: Mary Poppins pays the children of the Banks children a visit to teach them all a little bit about family. Also, Lin Manuel Miranda.
See, I don’t automatically like all musicals! I just… automatically put them on my “I’m going to watch that” list. I think a sequel to Mary Poppins is fine. Unnecessary, yes. Did I have a good time watching it? Also yes. In fact, I’ll even go so far to say that the Banks family, their relationship, and the plot of this movie is stronger than in the original one.
But when I left, I realized that the song I was humming wasn’t in Mary Poppins Returns- it was from Mary Poppins. To be honest, I couldn’t remember one song from the movie. A faint tune at best. At first I thought, “I was more adaptive musically when I was younger” but then I put the soundtrack on at home and thought, “No, I was right.” There were no earworms that really get caught in my head and made me reminisce about the experience I literally just left.
That and- holy hell, is this movie formulaic. John said it was a remake disguised as a sequel and, by George, he was right. Imagine one thing was changed from a scene in Mary Poppins and you get Mary Poppins Returns. Kids need to clean up? How about the kids need to clean themselves? Wacky family member who dances on ceilings? We’ll make it a woman! Chimney sweep? TRY A LAMP LIGHTER. Kites at the end? We have balloons! It’s all very pretty and fun to watch, but it is tiresome after a while.
Visually, it’s engaging but there is a lot of CG here. We’re in a different generation and I understand that the things that cause wonder amongst children is very different from back then, but there is so little use of practical effects here that it almost seems like a wasted opportunity. The costumes are perfectly whimsical and I wish that just a little bit more had been done choreography-wise to highlight them- instead we get one big dance number that is overrun (literally) by BMX riders for whatever reason. It’s a shame because the actors are just so good in this, and I think a bit more could have been done with them on the practical and dance side of things.
Of course, the biggest expectations were put on Emily Blunt- how can you possibly even try to emulate the legendary Julie Andrews? Blunt has such a natural aloofness to her that goes with the character so perfectly. And- she’s good. Not in the “I guess that will do” kind of sense, but she seems like she’s bee training in musical theater for years. (To my knowledge, she doesn’t have a musical theater background.) I think Blunt is one of those actresses that is worth every penny of her contract- she has one of the most versatile resumes out there and I have yet to not enjoy her performances.
And that’s what really sells it for me, as far as not minding this movie goes. Her effect on the Banks family is genuine and it’s a good reminder to adults and good lessons for children to value the intangible when it comes to important relationships. And if the kids now can see this and walk away with those thoughts, then that’s all that really matters.