Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Movie Review: "Mary Poppins Returns" (2018)

Director: Rob Marshall
Year: 2018
Rating: PG
Running Time: 2 hours, 10 minutes

Michael and Jane Banks are all grown up. Michael now has three young children of his own, but his house is in danger of repossession. Stressed out and unsure of what to do, Mary Poppins returns to guide Michael's kids, and in turn, may wind up guiding him once more.

Mary Poppins Returns 2018 Disney movie Emily Blunt Emily Mortimer Ben Whishaw
"Nothing's gone forever, only out of place." (Image Source)
As we grow older, we often lose the wonder and joy we had as children, especially when the world comes crashing down on us (which, sadly, feels like it's happening more frequently lately). Sometimes, all we need is for someone to help us find the happiness that was not lost, just simply misplaced for a while. "Mary Poppins Returns" is directed by Rob Marshall, who has helmed several musicals, including the Oscar-winning "Chicago," as well as "Nine" and "Into the Woods." Marshall also helped write the movie along with David Magee and John DeLuca. Though some have erroneously labeled this a remake, it is actually a sequel to the 1964 Disney classic "Mary Poppins," which is based on the stories by P.L. Travers. Many years have passed since Mary Poppins worked for the Banks family. Michael (Ben Whishaw) and Jane (Emily Mortimer) are all grown up, and Michael now has three kids of his own, Anabel (Pixie Davies), John (Nathanael Saleh), and Georgie (Joel Dawson). They still live at their old family home on Cherry Tree Lane. Michael's wife recently passed away, and now his life is in a bit of disarray despite his sister helping as much as possible. In all the sadness and confusion, he has fallen behind on his mortgage, and now the bank is demanding full payment of the loan or he will lose their home. With stress at high levels and with no hope in sight, Mary Poppins (Emily Blunt) returns to help with the Banks children, and she may even help Michael find the happiness he thought he had lost.
Mary Poppins Returns 2018 Disney movie Lin-Manuel Miranda Emily Blunt
"Everything is possible, even the impossible." (Image Source)
It's a tall order for a filmmaker and cast to try and recapture the magic of a beloved classic like "Mary Poppins" at any time, let alone 54 years after the original's release. There will always be those unwilling to give this a chance because of their love for the original, and that's just fine, but they are missing a great movie! "Mary Poppins Returns" is a very successful sequel that does justice to the original without completely imitating its every move. It manages to capture the spirit of its predecessor while still offering something unique. Balancing the old and the new is the name of the game, and Rob Marshall does a spectacular job keeping the sets very classical looking as if it had been filmed on an old soundstage (like the original). Some modern special effects that wouldn't have been possible in the past are also mixed in but are not over-utilized. An underwater sequence during the song "Can You Imagine That?" remains one of the most imaginative and fun, and since it happens pretty early on, that sense of creativity and wonder lingered with us until the end. There is some amazing costume work here as well as characters travel from Depression-era England to said underwater wonderland, and even into the painted world of a porcelain bowl. Their style match these scenes every step of the way. Emily Blunt may not be Julie Andrews, but she does a sensational job taking over the iconic role of Mary Poppins. She looks like she's having a lot of fun with her role, and her singing voice is amazing. Lin-Manuel Miranda is also great as Jack the lamplighter, who is the protege of Bert the chimney sweep from the original. We also have to say that, though it's not perfect, Miranda's cockney accent is much better than Dick Van Dyke's very over-exaggerated one was. Finally, we have to talk about the soundtrack. We've heard many people say that the soundtrack for "Mary Poppins Returns" is unmemorable and bland to which we say PISH-POSH. There are some fantastic, deeply emotional, majorly upbeat, fun songs here. Of course people are more inclined to remember the music from the has been part of the cultural zeitgeist for the last half-century! Give it time, there are some songs here that we reckon have long-lasting potential, such as "The Place Where the Lost Things Go," "Trip a Little Light Fantastic," and "A Cover is Not the Book."
Mary Poppins Returns 2018 Disney movie Emily Blunt
"Some people think a great deal too much, of that I'm certain." (Image Source)
"Mary Poppins Returns" is full of pure joy. It's the movie we need for our dark times. It helped us remember that “we don't stop playing because we grow old, we grow old because we stop playing." We could all do with a little more wonder and imagination, and this movie has it in spades. It made us laugh, it made us cry, and most importantly, it put a smile on our faces from start to finish.

My Rating: 8/10
BigJ's Rating: 8/10
IMDB's Rating: ~7.4/10
RT Rating: ~78%
Do we recommend this movie: Yes!

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