By STACY BAUER & DAX HUGHES
3.5 out of 5 Popcorns
“Mary Poppins Returns” is worth the fifty-four-year wait. It stars Emily Blunt, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Meryl Streep, Ben Whishaw, and Emily Mortimer. Based on a series of 8 books written by P. L. Travers published from 1934 to 1988, it’s the sequel to the 1964 classic starring Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke.
Poppins is the nanny to the Banks family, leading them on the thread of magical adventures you’d expect. Could the name “Poppins” be derived from the “pop in” nature of her character? I don’t know, but sometimes it’s a nice reprieve being allowed to approach life so simplistically.
Childlike wonder is clearly in fine focus on Cherry Tree Lane. It’s nice not to have to think so hard, but instead let yourself embark on a trip to Fantasyland involving animated characters and sets, co-mingled with live actors – it’s one area Disney surely pioneered and masters.
A kind of recycling of the same concept’s here, so don’t expect anything really fresh or surprising (thus the 3.5 popcorn rating), except for a delightful cameo by beloved Van Dyke (his presence alone is at least worth half a popcorn). It’s possible at ninety-three years old, he even manages a tap dance on top of a desk, but you’d have to see it to believe it: don’t just take my word for it!
Whereas Andrews’ Poppins was saccharine-sweet, prim and proper, Blunt’s reprise is more, well … “blunt.” Think the Dowager Countess, a la “Downton Abbey.” Just the right amount of pushing the limits here to keep things interesting.
Can we talk about these “smart” and smashing costumes? They are visually arresting and with enticing combinations, simply to die for. I’ve already seen one curated fashion box subscription, inspired by this movie. With a completely fresh score by Scott Wittman and Marc Shaiman, the songs are new, but sadly, not really memorable, as the original was.
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