REIVIEW: MARY POPPINS RETURNS

Practically perfect in every way…

Mary Poppins is a family classic and ode to childhood for many. Director Rob Marshall said it was the first film he’d ever seen in the cinema, actor Ben Wishaw (Michael Banks) claims it to be the film that made him want to act and even Mr. Dick Van Dyke himself tells us that the set of the new movie held that same magic feeling as the first- so you don’t exactly need to be writing for the Guardian to know the stakes for this film to meet the expectations of generation were high.

I was about 3 when I first watched the original, back when Disney released films and then you couldn’t get them again unless they were made part of the immortal ‘Disney Classics’ range available all year. I had it for Christmas off my great uncle and I remember subjecting my poor great grandmother to it on repeat. It wasn’t my favourite and I didn’t like the bit where they laughed and ended up on the ceiling as it reminded me of that horrible feeling when your tummy aches because you’ve laughed too much. But it was the longest film I owned at the time (between the Little Mermaid and The Lady and The Tramp anyway) and therefore held a greater weight in what I justified to be a good film as meant I could hog the TV for longer… but I remember really loving the songs and secretly wanting some magic medicine of my own…

So naturally when I heard of a second film, I couldn’t see the point. Especially in the wake of all these live action remakes. But after sitting through the full 2hours 12minutes without checking my watch, there is EVERY point to this film. Rob Marshall’s take on a second instalment of the P.L Travers story is very much a love letter to the first and in it’s new elements stays true to the original in many ways. The animation is a novel treat as it’s the first time the studios have reverted to classic animation since the 90s bringing back all the nostalgia of the first.

Mary Poppins returns to the Banks family on Cherry Tree Lane around 30 years later amidst the great depression.Admiral Boom (David Warner) still sounds the cannon on the hour and Ellen (Julie Walters) still makes the breakfast but a lot has changed. Jane (Emily Mortimer) and Michael are all grown up, Michael’s wife has died leaving him with his three children (Pixie Davies, Joel Dawson, and Nathanael Saleh) who are having to be the grown ups while he grieves. With the news that their house is due to be repossessed due to mounting debts all seems lost until Mary Poppins (Emily Blunt) literally flies in on a kite to save the Banks children once more… and by kite it is legit the same one from the first film, ‘Votes for Women’ ribbon and all. Joined by lamp lighter Jack (Lin-Manuel Miranda) and a joyful supporting cast including Meryl Streep as Mary Poppins’ colourful cousin Topsy, the team work together to stop their family home from being seized by the bank and the formidable Mr. Wilkins (Colin Firth).

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Blunt never struck me as a method actor previously but she seriously has the grace and poise of Julie Andrew’s Mary Poppins down to a T. The singing though good doesn’t quite compare, but who could, or should be compared to Andrews. Of course the songs aren’t the same but they are catchy and do make you want to tap dance, which in my opinion is the main requirement for anything in the theme of Mary Poppins (except feed the birds, I wouldn’t tap dance to that) Talking of tap dancing… when Dick Van Dyke returns at the end as Mr. Dawes Jnr… the nostalgia of the original and watching the soon to be 93 year old tap dancing on the table reduced me to snotty tears. True I was 3 months pregnant, and unsure how I was going to get my sciatica ridden hip out of the chair without landing on the guy in front, but I believe the film would have had this effect on me regardless. It was no coincidence that ‘The musical’ as a genre came out of the depression and in a world where we could really do with that extra spoonful of sugar right now, Mary Poppins Returns is just the touch of well-timed magic we need. Its no secret that P L Travers hated Disney’s original (see Saving Mr. Banks for more info) but I’d like to think she might just like this one..

 Mary Poppins Returns hits cinemas Friday 21stDecember, take your family, take a friend, take yourself- you won’t regret it…