Movie Review: Mary Poppins Returns with More Magic

Mary Poppins Returns
Movie Review: Mary Poppins Returns with More Magic
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About the Author

Tyler Collins

Tyler Collins

Tyler Collins is a thespian and performer who has worked with theatre, film, and TV across Ontario. He comes from Campbellton, NB, and has lived in North Oakville over 20 years. He is a graduate of Journalism from Sheridan College. Twitter: @MrTyCollins

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Anyone looking for the best family movie of the holiday season need look no further. Mary Poppins Returns is an extraordinary amount of fun that carries on the legacy and the magic of what inspired its very creation.

There’s something brilliant merely from having director Rob Marshall crafting a well-formed original musical. His mega-hits Chicago and Into the Woods have shown he can do this genre well. But Disney’s budget, trust and a splash of originality made the experience whole and new for everybody.

Being released 54 years after the iconic original, this is one of the longest gaps between movies in Hollywood history. It’s not quite the timeless or modest masterpiece of 1964’s Mary Poppins. But the creativity and panache is enough to make Mary Poppins Returns an effective stand alone piece.

It’s been twenty years since Mary Poppins (Julie Andrews in the original, now Emily Blunt) left London’s 17 Cherry Tree Lane. Now Michael Banks (Ben Wishaw) is grown up and lives in the house with his three children Annabel, John and Georgie. With his father’s bank threatening to take the house, Mary nudges the family together to save their family home.

Similarly to the original, Mary doesn’t really visit to help the children. She’s repairing the entire family as a whole. She does so by finding what’s missing for the Banks children, their father and their aunt.

Mary’s character is rarely the focus of what’s going on. But she’s always around, and it’s her ideas that ties things together. She represents the “magic,” so to speak, of what real nannies and caretakers do for ordinary people. She matters the most because she’s the link that connects everyone around her. And Blunt more than meets this task.

Both Blunt and Lin-Manuel Miranda as lamplighter Jack (taking over for Bert) are indescribable talents. Their poise, voices, intentions and actions are masterworks of performance. The few moments when the screenplay gives way to their improvisations are when the character personalities really shine through.

The rest of the cast is just as wonderful, but especially the children. There too are the finest cameos of any movie assembled before. Angela Lansbury, Meryl Streep and Dick van Dyke not only steal their scenes, but they do so as fully realized characters instead of celebrities.

Mary Poppins Returns

Photo: Buena Vista Pictures

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And everyone is just as well directed by Marshall. Two sequences in particular, “The Royal Daulton Bowl” and “Trip a Little Light Fantastic” are among the best scenes in any film this year. Their exuberance and explosive charm are like thunderbolts of happiness pulsating from the screen.

Marshall knows how to maximize the magic from every tool in the film. What mystifying cinematography! What exquisite production design of 1930s London! In lieu of chimney sweeps, what clever dance moves from the legion of lamp-lighters! And what neat bicycle stunts they pull off, too!

Last year’s holiday musical The Greatest Showman was already a crummy piece of filmmaking. But the excellent craftsmanship of Mary Poppins Returns makes Showman and its pop music drama look like a kindergarten project.

Finally, a note about the new songs. I blasted composers Marc Shaiman and Scott Whittman a few weeks ago for their atrocious Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. But these new songs are great. These are about as close to Sherman Brothers wonderful you’ll find aside from the real thing.

While it’s not progressive material, it is thematically strong. More importantly, Mary Poppins Returns is dangerously entertaining. Each element is so carefully and beautifully realized it echoes the colossal joy the first Mary Poppins brought to theatres so many years ago.

Even supercalifragilisticexpialidocious can’t describe how enjoyable this sequel truly is. It is the best family film of the year, and an unmissable holiday event.

Mary Poppins Returns
4 out of 4 stars

G, 2hrs 10mins. Family Musical Epic.
Directed by Rob Marshall.
Starring Emily Blunt, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Ben Wishaw and Emily Mortimer.
Now Playing at Film.Ca Cinemas, Cineplex Winston Churchill and Cineplex Oakville & VIP.

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