NOTE: This article does contain some minor spoilers in reference to the content of the film. No major plot points are referenced but we do review some of our favorite hidden gems!
For many Disney fans, the epitome of Disney magic was found in 1964’s Mary Poppins. This magical masterpiece defined Disney storytelling for generations. Mary Poppins Returns has now arrived to do the same for a whole new generation of Disney fans. This beautiful movie musical starring Emily Blunt as Mary Poppins hits high notes recaptures the magic that made the original so special. Joined by Lin-Manuel Miranda as Jack, Ben Wishaw as Michael Banks, and Emily Mortimer as Jane Banks, Mary Poppins Returns builds off the legacy of the original film while not just relying on the past to carry it through.
Mary Poppins Returns is an instant Disney classic. It has all of the elements one associates with favorite Disney movies. There is tragedy, conflict, humor, memorable music, delightful characters, and of course the moments that connect at the heart. Going into the film, it was difficult not to be a bit skeptical about the potential for this film. Mary Poppins is one of the great Disney films of all time. It seemed like an insurmountable storytelling task to try and undertake. Within moments of the opening of the film as Jack (Lin-Manuel Miranda) was singing about the London skies, it was clear that something special was happening on the screen.
As the movie progressed it became increasingly evident that this film didn’t try to just recreate the original, instead it tried to honor it and also be itself. Emily Blunt as Mary Poppins is the best example of this. She is clearly Mary Poppins, but definitely not Julie Andrews. Throughout her performance, her command of the character was unquestionable. She connected with the Mary Poppins that is known and loved but did it in her own way. From line delivery to singing, Blunt’s performance was heartwarming and engaging. Jack (Lin-Manuel Miranda) was incredibly charming, just as one would expect. The energy he brought to the film was a ray of sunshine that was needed as the film dealt with some tough life moments. The return of the Banks children as adults was both believable and endearing.
The music for Mary Poppins Returns is a charming return to the movie-musical that is catchy and beautiful. It was completely lovely to walk out of the film with a song from the film stuck in my head. The songs fit and added in a way that didn’t obstruct the progression of the story. Instead, they moved the story forward as they connected to the classical musical style with some modern flair. A Cover is Not the Book also gave Miranda a chance to show his performance style he is known for from his performances in Hamilton, and dance with some penguins!. Turning Turtle was a quirky fun piece with Meryl Streep as Mary Poppins cousin that was a fun addition to the film. Trip the Light Fantastic was a modern return to Step in Time from the original and Nowhere to Go But Up connected with Let’s Go Fly a Kite.
There were several cameos throughout the film that just elevated the film even further. The one that is probably the most magical is Dick Van Dyke as Mr. Dawes Jr. This performance is charming and heartwarming. It was easily a highlight of the film. Karen Dotrice, Jane in the original Mary Poppins, also makes an appearance that is a lovely little moment. Another favorite moment has to be Angela Lansbury as the balloon lady. She opens up Nowhere to Go But Up and it is completely wonderful to see Lansbury perform again. Seeing the aforementioned penguins return during the animated segment was also heartwarming. This portion of the film was nostalgic, humorous, and completely enjoyable.
While not cameos, there were multiple characters that appeared in Mary Poppins Returns that were memorable in the original film. Beyond the Banks grown up children and Mary Poppins, Admiral Boom made a return. So did the housekeeper Ellen. Both have new actors portraying them but both were easily recognizable. The original snow globe, a certain green kite, and toy blocks also make appearances in the film. While not characters, they were iconic in the original Mary Poppins. They also represent the masterful job that Disney did on building upon the legacy of the original film without just copying it.
Mary Poppins Returns is an instant Disney classic. It is a powerful masterpiece that will take Disney fans new and old on an emotional and magical journey as the story of the Banks family continues. It is a modern movie built on a classic Disney foundation. It sets a new bar for how to revisit Disney classics, whether live-action or animated. It is a wonderful Christmas present that will be fun to watch time and time again. It will be loved by all ages and introduce Mary Poppins to a whole new generation of Disney fans! Without hesitation, Mary Poppins Returns get five hat tips! Do not miss this film, it is the one film that should not be missed this holiday season!