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Mary Poppins Returns!

Laurence Jarvik

Posted on January 5, 2019 14:44

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After half a century, Mary Poppins returned to movie theaters this Christmas with something for everyone--older viewers who saw the original, younger viewers who met her for the first time, and middle-aged viewers who wanted to share their own childhood experience with a new generation.

What enables a classic to stand the test of time? 

Mary Poppins Returns gave an answer this Christmas, as Disney reimagineered the children's classic for a generation of video gamers and social media addicts.

A bit darker, with CGI effects in addition to Disney's audioanimatronics, Lin-Manuel Miranda for Dick Van Dyke, Meryl Streep instead of Ed Wynn, Emily Mortimer replacing Glynis Johns, and Emily Blunt trying to make Julie Andrews' role her own, Rob Marshall's production provides variations on Robert Stevenson's 1964 original which I found enjoyable.

I don't know how Disney snagged the rights for this sequel, as author P.L. Travers was reportedly unhappy with the blockbuster hit the first-time around and banned any more adaptations...but I'm glad Disney pursued it, because it is at once a nostalgia picture for parents--and grandparents--as well as an adventure story set to music which can stand on its own.

Yes, the songs are not as tuneful or catchy as Sherman Brothers hits like "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" or "A Spoonful of Sugar." But with the exception of "Turning Turtle" and its clumsily revolving set, there isn't a bad number in the movie.

In a way, the film is like two movies in one--for each scene may trigger memories, and nostalgic tears, in older viewers.

Here's what's to like:

1. Emily Blunt pays homage to Julie Andrews without impersonating her, giving a sharper edge to the Practically Perfect Nanny while keeping a soft center. No, she's not a seven-octave songbird like Julie Andrews, but yes, she can carry a tune and has a nice voice.

2. Lin-Manuel Miranda puts his spin on Dick Van Dyke's charming chimney-sweep as a community-organizing lamplighter...perhaps too black-shirt or ANTIFA for some viewers, but in the end Miranda shows he has a heart of gold in a nice show-stopper featuring veteran hoofer Angela Lansbury with the best song in the show: "Nowhere To Go But Up." Not quite "Let's Go Fly A Kite," but close enough.

3. Emily Mortimer's union organizer Jane Banks is a gloss on Glynis Johns' militant suffragette. Mortimer is not as funny as Johns, but otherwise pays tribute nicely.

4. Ben Whishaw plays Michael Banks all grown up, and his scenes do a nice job of reminding viewers of the Julie Andrews picture while moving the story forward 25 years. He seems to be able to sing, too.

5. Colin Firth's portrayal of bank president William "Weatherall" Wilkins is superbly unctuous, duplicitous, and believably British. A real-life Snidely Whiplash (not from a Disney cartoon, I know). 

6. Last but not least, 93-year Dick Van Dyke's return as Mr. Dawes, Jr. is absolutely delightful--especially his dance number, in which he really does "Trip A Little Light Fantastic."

Other production numbers are also very nice, such as "A Cover Is Not The Book" and "The Place Where Lost Things Go" and "Can You Imagine That?"

Mary Poppins Returns is magic.

See it. 

Laurence Jarvik

Posted on January 5, 2019 14:44

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Watch the sing along titled "Spoonful of Sugar" for the film Mary Poppins . Filed Under: Mary Poppins Tags: Walt...

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