So I just saw Mary Poppins Returns, and it’s pretty fantastic. I’ve been excited all year to see this movie, and all the anticipation delivered.
Taking place 20 years after the first film, we see that Jane (Emily Mortimer) and Michael (Ben Whishaw) have grown up, with Michael being a single father to his kids, John, Annabelle and Georgie. Michael has lost all the magic in his life following the loss of his wife and the notice that the Banks’ house is about to be repossessed by the bank. At a point where nearly all hope is lost, Mary Poppins (Emily Blunt) returns to bring hope back into the Banks’ lives. And the rest of the film follows Mary Poppins, the children, and a lamplighter named Jack (Lin-Manuel Miranda) on their adventures to bring magic back to the Banks.
When I heard a sequel to Mary Poppins was announced, I got excited. Mary Poppins is one of my favorite movies and is one that I would call perfect. But the rest of the Internet was complaining about how bad of an idea it was to make a sequel. Not only is the first film a classic but it came out nearly 55 years ago, and now they’re making a sequel. Don’t get me wrong: I was a little skeptical as well. But once it came out, I had an absolute blast. Much like the first film, the sequel retains the magic and wonder of Mary Poppins. Not only that, but it’s just a straight-up fun movie. From the opening frame to the end credits, I was smiling. It just made me feel so happy and warm, which is exactly what I needed after finals. Now I’m just going to say, the story is not the strongest. Even though it takes place years after the first film, the structure of the original is basically in the sequel. Remember when people were complaining that The Force Awakens was too derivative of A New Hope? The same goes for Mary Poppins Returns. And while I can’t be too strict about it being derivative or predictable since it’s a kids/family movie, it’s something that’s worth taking note of. But even then, I don’t hate the story. It’s still nice, and it’s not mean-spirited in any way; it’s just I wish they changed the formula a little more considering it’s been such a long wait to see this follow-up.
There’s also not as many dramatic moments as I hoped there would be. Don’t get me wrong, they’re there, but they just don’t compare. What made the first film so great was that the dramatic moments were not just good but spectacularly good. It’s downright depressing in some cases. Here, it’s just not the same. But it’s easy to forgive because everything else is so great. All the performances are fantastic. Emily Blunt is spectacular as Mary Poppins. While nobody could beat Julie Andrews, Blunt is still phenomenal in the role. From her mannerisms to her speech to her reactions, she gets the character spot-on. Her singing was also great, which I knew going in after her role in Into the Woods, but she went from a good singer to a great one. Since Julie Andrews is so iconic, I thought it would be distracting to see someone else in the role. But that was not the case because Emily Blunt was excellent. Lin-Manuel Miranda is also wonderful. After Hamilton, we all knew he could sing, but he can also be a great film actor. He has so much energy and joy that it shines through the screen. The only downside is that like Dick Van Dyke, he sports a cockney accent. And unfortunately, it’s not very good. Granted, it’s not as bad as Bert in the first film, but it’s still not the best. However, it doesn’t distract from his performance, which is a good thing. Ben Whishaw also does a fine job. You see the stress he has as a single father and the thought of losing his house. It’s a scary thought, and you find yourself on his side.
Moreover, the music is spectacular. The songs are all ridiculously catchy, easily memorable, and capture the spirit of the original. Even while writing this review, I was listening to the soundtrack. And the fact that not one song was nominated for a Golden Globe is insulting. Why didn’t they nominate a song? The only issue with the soundtrack is that there’s not a song like “Feed the Birds.” I would’ve loved to see a really powerful and dramatic song, but unfortunately it wasn’t there.
The effects and visuals are also unbelievable. The production design is stunning because it looks just like the first film. The Banks’ house looks real and is a time warp back to 1930s London. And despite clearly being filmed on a set, it still looks like London. The atmosphere and cinematography give it the feel of the real world. The effects are impressive. There’s a Jolly- Holiday-like scene where all the characters go into a china bowl. The greatest thing about this scene is the fact that there is 2D HAND DRAWN ANIMATION. You do not know how happy it made me to see classic 2D Disney animation on the big screen again. Even though I love CG animated movies, 2D just has a magical quality that can never be matched. And we’ve waited way too long to see something like this again. The last 2D-animated Disney film was Winnie the Pooh (2011), so it’s about time that we got some 2D animation again.
The animation and live action blend flawlessly in this movie. It really feels like the actors are in the animated world. It’s not just the only really great effect, there’s an impressive upside-down room, an underwater world through a bathtub, and a thrilling climax on Big Ben. But what Mary Poppins Returns succeeds so well in is the nostalgia and fun factor. It brings you right back to when you were a kid— to a time where all fantasies were real. A 6-year-old today can enjoy it as much as a 60-year-old grandparent who saw the first film back in 1964. So yes, the film just brought a smile to my face. After all the stresses of school, finals, and applying to colleges, this was just what I needed: a fun adventure about the joys and fun of childhood.
While nothing will ever beat the original, Mary Poppins Returns is a worthy sequel. Everything from the acting, the characters, the music, the visuals, the costumes, and the message makes it a fun time. Go see this movie. It’s one that shows how the impossible can really become possible.
FINAL RATING: 9/10