Fri | Jan 18, 2019

'Mary Poppins Returns': magic revisited

Published:Monday | January 7, 2019 | 12:00 AMDamian Levy/Gleaner Writer
This image released by Disney shows, from left, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Pixie Davies, Joel Dawson, Nathanael Saleh and Emily Blunt in 'Mary Poppins Returns'.

There are certain films that are beloved the world over. The kind of movies that should you sully them with any sort of negative or less than enthusiastic (or supercali-fragilisticexpialidociou) feeling, you will be met with public outcry. One of those films is Mary Poppins - the film about a magical nanny who makes it her mission to improve the lives of two children through an incredible adventure. Now, years later, she's returned to do it all over again.

Something that the film does very well, is how much it feels like the world of Mary Poppins. The dialogue is written in the same style right from the outset - with characters feeling like characters rather than real people - a helpful tone for when the film delves into complete fantasy. What's most surprising, though, is just how well it's able to blend that broad aesthetic with some keenly down-to-earth moments.

On one hand, you have characters like Lin-Manuel Miranda's 'Jack', who, almost literally, begins the movie with his head in the clouds for the film's opening number. On the other, you have Ben Whishaw, as the now older and wiser Michael Banks, struggling to cope with the recent death of his wife and mother of his three children. The latter is far more compelling than the former, but they don't feel like they come from separate films. Everything in Mary Poppins Returns has a distinct cohesion to it, and is brilliantly well paced, albeit a little long.

Once it's through presenting you with characters to care about, it moves along in fantastic style with musical number after musical number. The best of these are spearheaded by Emily Blunt, as Mary Poppins, who doesn't quite eclipse the original performance, but absolutely makes it her own. The film also has Meryl Streep, Dick Van Dyke, and Angela Lansbury, each performing a song all to themselves, so at the very least it's a film you can take your grandmother to.

I can't say Mary Poppins Returns is perfect, because it isn't. It's simply a fine companion piece to the original, and another example of a long-awaited sequel affecting the story and the characters you already fell in love with for the better. For a film that had such an incredible act to follow, Mary Poppins Returns does a good job.

Rating: Big-Screen Watch.