It’s been decades since Mary Poppins last visited the Banks family. Jane and Michael Banks are now grown-up adults, and Michael still lives in the original Banks home with his three little children. As our film opens up, it’s understood that Michael and his children are going through a challenging time in their lives and dealing with a loss within the family.
Thankfully our magical nanny is on the way to once again to help the Banks family, including the next generation of Banks children. Mary Poppins will use her gifts and talents to try once again and bring change to the lives of this family, helping them rediscover joy.
I don’t know about you, but for me, Mary Poppins (1964) was a viral film in my house when I was growing up. I used to watch this film over and over again on Beta Cassette and VHS. To this day, I own the movie on Bluray, and it remains a Disney classic in my eyes. Growing up, I enjoyed Mary Poppins more than The Sound Of Music, which also featured the talented Julie Andrews.
Disney has taken the challenge to reignite what was once magical by delivering a sequel. This time, Mary Poppins will be played by the actress Emily Blunt. The role of Mary Poppins is the role of the most significant importance of this film. While I will speak praise for Emily Blunt’s work here, it should be noted that actress delivers a different take on the role rather than trying to match the performance by Julie Andrews. Therefore, some audience members might be disappointed (or surprised) by her take on the character, as this time Mary Poppins provides more snappy and confident dialogue rather than showing lots of kindness or heartfelt compassion. It would be rather challenging to take on the lead when Julie Andrews created such a memorable film. I must also state my disappointment when Mary Poppins meets familiar characters in this film. Most actors who had Mary Poppins change their lives are greeted with more dialogue, and it is almost as if the characters barely care or remember what happened in the past. I found this element somewhat surprising.
As you would expect for a Disney film, it is fully loaded (yes, loaded) with many new songs and dance sequences. While all of these tracks are touching and significant to see (particularly in the film’s third act), after the movie I’ll be frank, I couldn’t remember any of the songs as I left the cinemas. Meaning, none of these songs stuck to me and I didn’t feel to listen to the film’s soundtrack which I thought was strange. My wife, who watched this film with me, had the same feeling, unable to remember the songs. I know what you’re thinking, and it’s not because we are getting older, but the simple fact is that the songs are forgettable and don’t stand out. I still recall seeing the Greatest Showman, and after watching the film, the tracks were stuck in my head, and I found myself enjoying the film’s soundtrack. After this film… nothing. No desire to listen again, even though I enjoyed the movie on screen.
As a plot, the concept of Mary Poppins’ mission is new and creative, but sadly the journey as to where Mary and the Banks children go has duplicated moments from the original film. Some of these include characters who end up on the roof, a cartoon scene and a Gas Lantern Lighter Dance Sequence (instead of Chimney Sweepers). Don’t get me wrong, it’s still all enjoyable, but I couldn’t help think that this was done as a safer option for the film. I would have preferred to see the movie step out and do some completely different things.
Overall, Mary Poppins Returns is a heartwarming film. It delivered many similar moments to the original, but that being said, I wished Disney had taken a more considerable step out and gave new creative moments with Mary Poppins rather than the same journey we once saw in 1964. Emily Blunt has delivered a different take as Mary Poppins, which receives my praise as she is not copying the previous actress Julie Andrews but providing her version of the character. Some may find this disappointing while others will accept this different take. If you’re a Mary Poppins fan like me, I suggest you go to local cinemas and take your talking umbrella for a trip back to memory lane.
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Review Written by Peter Walkden