For the sake of full disclosure, I was emotional with nostalgia from the moment Mary Poppins returned, literally, with a kite, from the sky.
In Disney’s “Mary Poppins Returns,” an all new original musical, Mary Poppins is back to help the next generation of the Banks family find the joy and wonder missing in their lives following a personal loss. Directed by Rob Marshall from a screenplay by David Magee and a screen story by Magee & Marshall & John DeLuca based upon the Mary Poppins Stories by PL Travers, the film stars: Emily Blunt as Mary Poppins; Lin-Manuel Miranda as Jack; Ben Whishaw as Michael Banks; Emily Mortimer as Jane Banks; Julie Walters as Ellen; Pixie Davies, Nathanael Saleh and Joel Dawson as the Banks children; with Colin Firth as William Weatherall Wilkins; and Meryl Streep as Cousin Topsy.
Michael Banks was just a child when the practically-perfect nanny Mary Poppins first visited the Banks home, but he is now a grown man with children of his own. A struggling artist temporarily employed by Fidelity Fiduciary Bank—the same financial institution where his father and grandfather worked before him—Michael lives at 17 Cherry Tree Lane with his children: Annabel, John and Georgie. Times are tough in Depression-era London. It’s the 1930s, and the city is in the midst of the “Great Slump,” so money is tight, people are anxious and the future is uncertain. The family is struggling to cope with the recent death of Michael’s wife, and the house is rundown and in a constant state of chaos, despite the best efforts of their inefficient yet well-meaning and warmhearted housekeeper, Ellen. With the harsh reality of the times and the burden of their loss weighing heavily on the family, the children find themselves taking on additional responsibilities around the house…and growing up much too fast in the process. His sister Jane has inherited her mother’s enthusiasm for good causes, and, while busy herself promoting workers’ rights, finds time to help Michael and his family every chance she gets. As it becomes more and more difficult for Michael to connect with his children while processing his own sorrow, the chairman of the bank, Mr. Wilkins—who appears to be a congenial and altruistic mentor to Michael but is actually duplicitous and shrewd—is in the process of foreclosing on the Banks home, sending the already frazzled Michael into a further tailspin.
Fortunately, the winds begin to change, and the enigmatic governess whose unique magical skills can turn any ordinary task into a fantastic adventure, enters the lives of the Banks family once again, having not aged a single day. Teaming up with an old friend, Jack, a charming and eternally optimistic street lamplighter, they take the Banks children on a series of whimsical adventures and introduce them to colorful characters like Mary’s eccentric Cousin Topsy and Jack’s lovable band of leeries, bringing life, love and laughter back into the home.
There are several musical numbers reminiscent of the original movie, but different enough for them to easily stand on their own. The first bath, the adventure in the china, and the leeries musical number, they were all terrific!
The cameos were superb. Meryl Streep is Mary Poppin’s eccentric cousin and she is wonderful. Angela Lansbury is an American treasure and a delight to see on screen. And then Dick Van Dyke shows up and the entire theater gasped as one!
It is easy to enter the theater with a skeptical attitude, how do you “remake” or update a classic like Mary Poppins? I knew from the trailers that Emily Blunt was going to be incredible. She made the iconic role of Mary Poppins her own, there is no doubt about it. She was wonderful and her singing was terrific!
Lin-Manual has a great voice and did a good enough job, and it was great to see him on screen. Everyone else was a joy to watch, and the three actors who played the children were terrific. This is a new CLASSIC! Go see Mary Poppins Returns, it is wonderful! You can buy tickets at Fandango.com right now!
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