Mary Poppins Returns -2018
Director(s): Rob Marshall
Writer(s): David Magee (screenplay) / David Magee, Rob Marshall and John DeLuca (story) / P.L. Travers
Cinematography by: Dion Beebe
Editor(s): Wyatt Smith
Cast: Emily Blunt, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Ben Whishaw, Emily Mortimer, Pixie Davies, Nathanael Saleh, Joel Dawson, Julie Walters, Meryl Streep, Colin Firth, Dick Van Dyke and Angela Lansbury
I have been more than vocal on my feelings towards Disney's live-action remakes, as they feel like clear-cut cash grabs. And while this film does not technically fall under that umbrella, it is a sequel build on an IP many felt should not have or "needed" a sequel. However, as the talent behind and in front of the camera started to take shape my skepticism of this being just a cash grab begun to melt away, slightly. Walking-out, I have a little bit of that feeling living in my heart, but the fun and joy I felt slipping into this magical world once again out ways it. Let's talk about it.
The story takes places around twenty years after the events of the original and follows the Banks kids, Michael (Whishaw) and Jane (Mortimer). Michael has three kids of his own, and with the recent passing of his wife, and finances being tight, life has become as taxing as it can be, making the return of Mary Poppins (Blunt) a welcome sight for the whole family. The story hits the same story beats of the original that despite it being a sequel one can argue that it's a soft reboot. Family drama set-up, Poppins arrives, magical shenanigans, character development, and the fun musical closing number, credits. It is not something that took me out completely, but for all the Poppins fans (Poppins-heads?), it will feel familiar, while still being entertaining. The characters are full of heart and warmth, Poppins is hilarious with her comebacks and snarky comments, and the kids felt more human and grounded than your regular “run of the mill” kid character in a family movie. Overall good script, but to be fair they had a great script to borrow from, in terms of the fun sequences.
Quick note: I did enjoy the music, and the musical performances but for the life of me I could not recall a single song as I write this review. Maybe I need a re-watch to walk away with "a spoon full of sugar" or "let's fly a kite", but I don't know if the new songs are as catchy and fun as the original. And now I'm singing "a spoon full of sugar" in my head for the rest of this.
If you are going to do a musical, you cannot go wrong with enlisting the talents of Rob Marshall (Chicago, Nine, and Into the Woods). His eye and style when it comes to capturing the magic of a world in where music is a character feel effortless. Not for a second do you don't question the music's placement in the story, and you fully embrace their part in the storytelling. The dance sequences allow the performers to shine, shying away from heavy editing. He handled the magical elements very well, intergrading cartoons and CGI sequences with his actors seamlessly. The set design, costume design, and special effects are once again top notch as I've come to expect from a Disney production. Even if you hate one of their movies, they employ the best costume/set designers in the world, and the product proves it.
Emily Blunt was placed in an extremely difficult situation, reprise a role Julie Andrews made famous. Andrews is synonymous with Poppins, and yet somehow Blunt managed to embody the spirit of Andrews while making it her own. Blunt’s Poppins is a bit funnier in my eyes, she had me laughing and smiling as she made fun of the people around her. Her singing was okay, nothing that will blow you away, but she holds her own. What I loved honestly is that she tried to make it her own and didn’t make an impression. It is Mary Poppins through and through. Very impressed by Blunt, and I understand the award buzz behind her performance. The rest of the cast is solid, not a weak performance in the group.
Now, the film asks a lot of your attention span. The musical numbers, while entertaining, run a bit too long sometimes. There is a moment where it turns into a BMX show for some reason, and the climax of the movie (ladders) is pointless and gets deflated when Poppins can use her magic. It may be minor nitpicks, but they do weigh when you place them in an overly familiar story bit, that we have seen done before. The film is not bad by any stretch of the imagination, and it still feels a bit unnecessary, but it is very entertaining and solid fun at the theaters.
Mary Poppins Return's entertainment value is a good spoon full of sugar that made the reboot, cash grab go down. The acting from Blunt is fantastic and can easily be this generation's Poppins without insulting the image of the original. The warmth and care given to this IP stand out as you watch it, even if you come in with the knowledge that the creator of Poppins hated Disney and didn't want her IP in their hands ever again, they took care of her nanny. I would recommend watching this movie at the theater since the effects and the music warrant the big screen, I would take advantage of the matinee price. Blunt is why I love movie
Mary Poppins Returns is currently playing in theaters. Solid matinee movie.
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