FRIDAY NIGHT/MOVIE THEATER REVIEW: “Mary Poppins Returns” stars Emily Blunt (Edge of Tomorrow, The Adjustment Bureau), Lin-Manuel Miranda (The Odd Life of Timothy Green, Looking for Maria Sanchez), Ben Wishaw (The Lobster, Cloud Atlas), Emily Mortimer (Lars and the Real Girl, Harry Brown), Pixie Davies (Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, Humans [TV series]), Nathanael Saleh (Game of Thrones [TV series], Days of the Bagnold Summer), Joel Dawson, Julie Walters (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, Billy Elliot), Meryl Streep (The Post, The Giver), Colin Firth (Kingsman: The Secret Service, A Single Man), Jeremy Swift (Gosford Park, Oliver Twist), Kobna Holdbrook-Smith (Doctor Strange, The Commuter), Dick Van Dyke (Night at the Museum, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang), and Angela Lansbury (Beauty and the Beast , The Manchurian Candidate). It is directed by Rob Marshall (Into the Woods, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides), who also wrote it with David Magee (Life of Pi, Finding Neverland) and John DeLuca. Decades after caring for the Banks children, Mary Poppins (Blunt) returns to watch over Michael’s (Wishaw) kids, while helping them solve their financial issues that threaten their home.
Well, here we are: another Disney sequel. I don’t want to sound like a broken record when I complain about the number of sequels and reboots that come out in a given year nowadays, so I’ll leave it at that. They wanna release another “Mary Poppins” feature? Go ahead, make my day. I was never really a big fan of the woman who flew by means of umbrella; the closest I got was being enthralled by the musical on Broadway I got to see back in 2009 (now that was a show, let me tell you what). It’s a nice tale of a magical nanny watching over two kids who in turn learn a thing or two by the story’s end, but it didn’t hold enough weight in my childhood to deem the sequel worthy of forking over the hard-earned dough. My family wanted to see it, however, giving more money to the ever-wonderful House of Mouse. Surprisingly enough (at least to me), this was a solid feature. Reminiscent of Disney’s revamp of “Cinderella” a few years ago, “Mary Poppins Returns” seeks to hold the same warm, comforting, whimsical feeling people grew up loving with the 1964 classic; and on most accounts, it succeeds. A lot of this sequel pays homage to the original, whether it be in small nods or full sequences, the biggest of which being a part where Mary Poppins, the kids, and Jack (Miranda) go into a broken bowl to fix a cartoon character’s carriage. It resembled that of the real life/2D animation blend found in the original (you know, the song with the dancing penguins). Heck, this movie even brought back the penguins to garner some laughs. Whether or not you find these references to be a means of paying homage or lazy writing is up to you. For me, I think there was a sense of respect, as the homages were a nice, sweet touch that mainly played into the innocent nature of this film. It holds a whimsical style and flow that looks to excite; sometimes it can be ballsy, but all in all the flick just looks to be a lovely adventure reintroducing the old ways. What do I mean by old ways? Well, the villain is your typical caricature, a hokey lesson is learned, songs are sung to get every point across, and the ending wraps everything in a neat bow. There’s a sense of urgency, but not really; a sense of trouble, but not really. We all know how this will play out, it’s only a matter of entertainment and execution that really judges the film itself. Overall, I would say I was entertained. The songs were nice (some were average, others were catchy, the best being the last), the performances were solid, and the cinematography was beautiful. Emily Blunt did a really good job in the role of Mary Poppins, though I will say her character came off a bit too narcissistic at times (she sure did love looking at herself). The best part by far was how this movie looked, from the costuming to the set design. It’s really reminiscent of the original, where all locations look like a set was built, but it’s still beautiful nonetheless. By the time the ending arrives and Cherry Tree Lane is brightened by the warm colors of both costuming and cherry blossom trees, you can’t help but be in awe. I loved the old Hollywood look, and it certainly boosted the score of this overall picture. Really, the only issues that plague “Mary Poppins Returns” lies in its sincere, musical, homage-filled nature. Every story/character development moment is found in songs (where some are hard to understand due to their accents) and how the conflict is resolved is way too out-of-left-field to make any sense. All of it was done for the use of a special cameo, which is nice, but does nothing to give sense to the overall story. In a way, it seemed like the writers backed themselves in a corner, and the only way to get out was to utilize a character we don’t see until the conflict needs to get resolved. It was unnerving, but thankfully the cameo was cool to watch (one of the highlights of the adventure). Other little things that are a con would be the umbrella parrot head that spoke (had no purpose at all to the plot), and how there were a few moments that dragged in the second act, primarily because the story relied heavily on song than dialogue. In the end, “Mary Poppins Returns” is a surprising, sweet feature that harkens to the original in fun ways. While it isn’t that spectacular overall, I enjoyed my time spent, and think there are enough good qualities to warrant a watch. FINAL SCORE: 80%= Juicy Popcorn
Here is the trailer: