Mary Poppins Returns - This Very Belated Sequel Of A Movie Rocks
Dir: Rob Marshall
Straaing Emily Blunt, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Ben Wishaw, Emily Mortimer, Meryl Streep, Dick Van Dyke, Julie Walters, Colin Firth, Angela Lansbury
Today is Dick Van Dyke’s 93rd birthday. His late-in-the-day appearance in this late-in-the-day Poppins follow up is an absolute delight. And one of many, it should be said. For those that have been waiting 54 years for another Mary Poppins movie, the good news is – well, relax, the wait is over. The other good news is this belated sequel is a very fine thing indeed.
Poppins returns to Cherry Tree Lane to save another Mr Banks, this time Michael, a boy in the first film, but here beautifully played by Ben Whishaw. Michael is now a widower with children of his own and in danger of succumbing to the depression of the 1930s. And then a certain nanny comes in on the string of a certain kite and – well, you can probably imagine what happens next, (imagination being a very powerful thing.)
It’s a big challenge to rework a movie as beloved as Mary Poppins – but it really, really helps if you cast Emily Blunt in the shoes of Julie Andrews. She is not only perfect – but magnificently perfect as the magical nanny, bringing a few darker hues form P L Travers’ original vision that blend delightfully.
Lin-Manuel Miranda stands in for Van Dyke of old, and even though his accent does verge into the now notorious “cor blimey guv’nor” realm of before, he stands one step behind caricature (even if his stand out number does go into Cockney rhyming slang territory – incorrectly of course – but what else would you expect from a Mary Poppins movie?)
Rob Marshall, a director who knows how to stage a song and dance often more than he does how to sustain a movie, is on peak form here, and draws note-perfect performances from all involved. The score is enjoyable but lacks anything classic – something that is only emphasised when strains of the original play onto the soundtrack. And we defy anyone watching not to shed a bucket or two when echoes of Feed The Birds and Let’s Go Fly A Kite filter through. We did – you will too.
But other than that, Mary Poppins Returns has a very simple agenda. It wants to be delightful. And it is. On just about all counts, and probably the best piece of family entertainment to be found this Christmas. (Still no Saving Mr Banks, mind.)
Follow us on Twitter @lastwordonearth