Mary Poppins Returns Review
In a world where Hollywood is vastly recycling our pop culture and looking towards nostalgia at an alarming rate, I guess it was only a matter of time before Mary Poppins would be making another visit to our silver screen. Sure enough, in 2018, she does indeed return. She wears the skin of Emily Blunt, and she once again makes a visit to the Banks children. Michael is all grown up, played by Ben Whishaw and his old family home is being repossessed by a bank and its greedy boss (Colin Firth) unless Michael can pay the loan off by Friday. Why this prompts the return Poppins is anybody's guess, but hey the movie needed a story.
I'll say one thing, Emily Blunt is FANTASTIC. Of course this isn't a surprise, as Blunt is fantastic in everything. But she brings a unique charm and warmth to the character, and yes she certainly can sing. Its more than believable when she starts wowing the children of Michael; Annabel (Pixie Davies), John (Nathaniel Saleh) and Georgie (Joel Dawson). In fact, the children themselves do good work too. If a movie like this is going to work, you need children you can act. You need children who can ooh and aah really well at all green screens so we can make sure and suspend our disbelief. The children do just that, because things do get a little crazy.
I am blown away by how well the old school animation of Disney still rides up well with today's live action. This movie does take its ques from the previous film and the live action characters meld with the old school style of animation quite nicely. The musical numbers are...actually hit or miss. I don't think there is a stand out song. I don't hear a new song for the ages. I don't hear any Oscar contenders. Which I found to be a little disappointing. The music is a main component of the movie, and its really important. I wish I could have heard that importance with my own ears.
The movie itself also runs a little long. There just so many imaginary destinations and musical numbers and running off with Jack (Lin-Manuel Miranda, a character that could have easily been written out of the script.) that can all happen or only so long until it comes off boring. Then you throw in Meryl Streep's most hideous and overblown cameo in decades, and you throw in a last minute musical number right before the credits that serves no purpose other than to kill more of your time. Suddenly, you begin to think that the movie will never end. If you keep your eyes peeled, you'll see cameos from the original cast and an actor here and there that you recognize. Sure, that's cool and all, but it just feels like we are treading water. We are hitting the accelerator in our car but going nowhere because we are stuck in mud.
Plus, "Mary Poppins Returns" is just too sweet. If I remember correctly, it only takes a spoon full of sugar to make the medicine go down.
FINAL GRADE: B-