Mary Poppins Returns continues the story of the Banks family that was first told in 1964. A now grown Michael and Jane Banks are now finding themselves facing some of the struggles of life and forgetting the joy they once had after Mary Poppins’ first visit. The film is accompanied by a beautiful, and magical, soundtrack that is as much a part of the story as any of the characters.
The original soundtrack for Mary Poppins is a masterpiece. Written by Robert and Richard Sherman, it is a beautiful blend of magic, whimsy, and beauty. It is easily one of the best Disney soundtracks out there. To say Mary Poppins Returns had a high bar to reach with its soundtrack would be a massive understatement. In fact, with as much risk as there was with telling a new Mary Poppins story, there was perhaps even more risk creating a new soundtrack! To succeed, Disney needed to pull together the write composers, lyricists, orchestration, musicians, and performers! Just having some catchy songs would not be enough. The soundtrack for Mary Poppins Returns had to recreate a magical feeling first felt in 1964. Thankfully, Disney pulled this off. The result is a soundtrack that is beautiful and destined to become a fan favorite for generations to come!
The songs and the score for Mary Poppins Returns were written by Marc Shaiman. He was joined by Scott Whittman to write the lyrics. Original composer Richard Sherman served as a musical consultant.
A list of all the pros for this soundtrack could probably fill a small book. The soundtrack for Mary Poppins Returns pulls from the magic of old-school Disney and moves forward with it. There are cinematic elements found in modern soundtracks, Broadway sounding moments, and some simply charming moments that just add to the depth of the storytelling. The most important part of this soundtrack is that it does its job and helps with the storytelling. Each song continues to move the story forward in a way that isn’t distracting and instead fits cohesively into the story that is being told.
The songs that are included in the Mary Poppins Returns are simply enjoyable. The key to a good soundtrack is if it follows the viewer home. When the soundtrack does it jobs, the audience members walk out of the theater remembering at least one of the tunes. The soundtrack for Mary Poppins Returns did this in a way that I haven’t experienced in a movie for years! Walking out of the theater I didn’t just have one song swimming about in my head. I had several of them as I tried to figure out which one was my favorite. The performance of these songs by Emily Blunt, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Ben Wishaw, the children, Dick Van Dyke, and the great Angela Lansbury are simply beautiful. Their performances are solid with no moments that made me wish they had picked a better performer (this has happened in far too many live-action movie musicals in recent years). Instead, I found myself engaged in the songs and being drawn deeper in after I went home and re-listened to the soundtrack. I also loved the messages found within the songs. They are songs I look forward to hearing in the coming years and would not be surprised to hear in the Disney parks at some point in some manner.
The score for Mary Poppins Returns is equally magical as the songs. Marc Shaiman captures that classic Disney without sounding old. It has that wonderful orchestral feel that gives various sections their moments to shine. As they do, the music highlights the story being told in a way that is not as common in many recent soundtracks. As it musically tells this new stories, it does borrow a few cues from the original Mary Poppins. This helps connect this new movie with the original and builds on the nostalgia factor. It thankfully does not make the listener find themselves wishing for the original movie. This is a testament to the strength of this score. The Mary Poppins Returns score is one that fans will enjoy for years to come.
The cons for this soundtrack really are few and far between. There are musical choices made in some of the songs that perhaps I would have chosen different energy for. The score could perhaps have pulled more from the orchestral style of the original film. However, that is a risk that could be just as detrimental as helpful. The biggest con is that it does pull from a similar formula that as the original Mary Poppins Returns. There are songs that are clearly inspired by songs from the original Mary Poppins. Some people will absolutely love this, others are going to be bothered by it. I personally felt that it was done in a way that was respectful and moved the story forward. Others I know felt that it was an easy way out. Honestly, there would be criticism one way or another just due to the nature of this film and soundtrack.
The soundtrack for Mary Poppins Returns is incredibly enjoyable. In preparation for this review, I have listened to it several times through. However, even if I hadn’t been planning on writing a review, I probably would have been listening to it either way. It just pulls me in and re-tells the story of the film in the way a good soundtrack should. It does this with both the songs and the music. As I have been listening to it, I am reminded of getting the soundtrack to Beauty and the Beast when I was younger. It is quickly becoming one of my favorite Disney soundtracks in recent years. It’s definitely worth listening to and adding to your library. Disney has a solid hit with this one that will be enjoyed for years to come, just as the original was!
Read my review of Mary Poppins Returns here and then share in the comments below what you thought of the movie and also the soundtrack!