Mary Poppins Returns: Film Review

When Mary Poppins Returns was announced I was horrified because I thought the 1964 original shouldn’t be messed with in any way and I was worried it would ruin the legacy and my memory of the original. I desperately wanted it to be good so I’m happy to report that it is loyal and I didn’t come away disappointed.

Emily Blunt replaces Julie Andrews as the nanny Mary Poppins, who comes flying down to 17 Cherry Tree Lane to help the Banks family once again. A grown-up Michael (Ben Whishaw) lives there with his three children John, Annabel and Georgie (Nathanael Saleh, Pixie Davies and Joel Dawson). Times are tough as the family recently lost their mother and are now at risk of losing their home. Poppins returns to make them see the joy and wonder in life once again, with the help of her lamplighter friend Jack (Lin-Manuel Miranda).

Above all else, Blunt was perfect as Poppins. I genuinely couldn’t think of who else could do it. She looked glorious, her posh accent and lightning fast, clipped delivery was hilarious and her singing and dancing was wonderful. She was the funniest member of the cast and deserves her awards nominations, without a doubt. I’m a fan of Miranda’s theatre work so it was nice to see him in a starring film role, although I couldn’t tell if his Cockney accent was deliberately bad in homage to Dick Van Dyke or he just couldn’t do it very well.

They had terrific support from the three smart kids, Julie Walters as the housekeeper Ellen, Emily Mortimer as the grown-up Jane Banks, Colin Firth as a mean banker (delightfully hammy), Meryl Streep in a small role as Mary’s wacky cousin Topsy, and a terrific cameo from Dyke himself. Best of all though (besides Blunt) was Whishaw, who gave a truly moving, realistic performance as a grieving widow worrying about his finances. He might make you sob.

The film looked gorgeous and full of colour and the handdrawn animated sequence was an absolute joy to behold. The choreography was top notch and the songs were good fun, although there wasn’t one that stood out. There were a couple that I liked but they are quite forgettable in comparison to the iconic, memorable tunes of the earlier film. My favourite song and dance sequences were A Cover is Not the Book (Blunt looked and sounded amazing in it) and Trip a Little Light Fantastic, which featured a lamplighter dance sequence that reminded me of the chimney sweeps roof dance in the first.

Mary Poppins Returns is not perfect – it lags in the middle in a couple of places and the songs aren’t quite the level of the previous – but it is a job well done by Rob Marshall. It is full of joy, spectacle and wonder and I couldn’t help but smile. It is both funny and moving and fans should be satisfied that it’s super faithful to the original. The fact that I haven’t come away disappointed is impressive in itself.

In cinemas Friday 21st December

SEE ALSO: Pictures of the cast at the Mary Poppins Returns London premiere

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