I may be a little too young to be able to fully appreciate the greatness that is the original Mary Poppins from 1964. Though I have seen it, I admit it has been a long time and I probably should’ve refreshed my memory before watching Mary Poppins Returns. Regardless, when I heard Emily Blunt and Lin-Manuel Miranda were going to star in it, I was immediately interested. However, sequels like these always come with some risk. They tend to be lazy and can come across as a money grab, but I anticipated director Rob Marshall would be a little extra careful with this remake of a beloved classic.
I am going to do my review a little different for this one mostly because there isn’t really anything fundamentally bad about the movie. It does exactly what it sets out to accomplish. Emily Blunt makes the actress transition almost seamlessly and rekindles the same kind of magic that Julie Andrews made us believe was possible in 1964. She is so elegant and graceful in her performance that it really holds the movie together. Lin-Manuel was also fantastic as Jack the lamplighter. He has many great musical numbers, many of which are very similar to the type of music he was doing in Hamilton.
The superb acting quality was definitely what drove this film. I mentioned the performances from Blunt and Miranda, but all of the supporting cast gave their all to the film as well. Ben Wishaw and Emily Mortimer are very good in their supporting roles as the original Banks children that are all grown up. I had no idea Meryl Streep, Angela Lansbury, Colin Firth, and Julie Walters were in this movie either, but they all added some fun elements in their own characters. Last but certainly not least is Dick Van Dyke, who gets back on a table and dances like he is a fifth of his 93 years young. Just an all-around pleasant cast to watch.
There wasn’t anything overly spectacular about Mary Poppins Returns. It is just a bright and fun film that is very similar to the original. They share many similar plot points, such as a segment that takes place in an animated world and a dance number with the lamplighter (as opposed to the chimney sweeps). The visuals of the animated scene are blended in a clean and dynamic manner. However, all this being said, nothing about this film jumps out to me as one of the best of the last year.
Had I seen this movie in 2018, It very well might have snuck into the back of my top 10 list. I didn’t see it in 2018 however, so I don’t need to worry about that decision. What I do need to worry about is the rating. Mary Poppins Returns is what I’d call a real smiler. It is one of those movies where I left the theater simply feeling happy. Sometimes that is bigger than the cosmetics of a movie or the search for poor acting and sloppy writing.
As the huge fan of Disney Animation that I am, I have decided to try to watch every feature film from Disney Animation Studios in 2019 (with the exception of the five package films that they produced in the 1940s). You can say it’s a New Years resolution of sorts. It works out nicely to just be one movie a week! If you would like to try to follow along with me in my endeavors to watch every movie from Disney Animation let me know and I’ll send you my movie schedule! I started this week with the one that started it all, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, but it is by no means in chronological order!