Mary Poppins Returns

Swell I Suppose


19 December 2018| No Comments on Mary Poppins Returns     by Sean Chavel



The 1964 original “Mary Poppins” is beloved to me, but for many months I looked forward to seeing the new long awaited Emily Blunt starring sequel and with the likelihood of me writing some fan labored corny puns. I have now seen Mary Poppins Returns, and while it is decent enough with some isolated marvelous moments, it is also not good enough to get me inspired to write such superlatives. Blunt has to impersonate Mary Poppins, but really she must impersonate Julie Andrews, and she does just fine with it – practically pristine but not perfect. The production design is chipper. The songs have a bottom line competence to them but are never memorable. There’s no “Step in Time” epic number, so this new one would rather come up with a bunch of smaller numbers. The dancing is neat but unspectacular. The live action in animation sequences add to some sparkle and exuberance is on high during a scene where Mary Poppins and the children go down a bathtub and into a magical underwater sea.

Oh yes, how about the plot? It’s another one of those save the house before the bank foreclosures on it plots. It’s a lumpy plot, not made good with the fact that it has too many early scenes where the characters are simply too wordy. I appreciated more than ever how the 1964 original was pithy and concise. Mary Poppins glides in from the sky and assumes cleaning up the family foibles of the grown-up Michael Banks (Ben Whishaw) and Jane Banks (Emily Mortimer), and Michael’s three children – who are decent movie children but never come individually alive, so to speak. Blunt and Lin Manuel-Miranda are the stars, with Miranda as the jack of all trades on the streets of London. He’s a lamplighter by trade, and there’s a nice but fairly ho-hum musical number with all the other lamplighters. It’s at least better than Meryl Streep’s eccentric cameo number that is something of a dud.

The movie is directed by Rob Marshall whose last musical “Into the Woods” (2013) is the most miserable and noxious musical of the twenty-first century. This time, he keeps the mood mostly cheery except for one scary runaway carriage scene and the fact that run-ins with Colin Firth as the bank boss are mirthless (Dick Van Dyke as the big boss sets him straight, and gets a spry thirty second dance scene). I wish there had been more to do with kites again this time around, but there’s a quirky and nice finish with balloons this time around. Like the rest, unexceptional but nice. I smiled and it whipped up some marginal nostalgia, but it didn’t take me hours afterwards to realize the movie had not captured my heart.

131 Minutes. Rated PG.


Film Cousins: “Mary Poppins” (1964); “Mrs. Doubtfire” (1993); “Nanny McPhee” (2005); “Saving Mr. Banks” (2013).

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Sean Chavel

About The Author / Sean Chavel

Sean Chavel is a Hollywood based author and movie reviewer. He is the Executive Director of, a new website that has adapted the movie review site genre by introducing moodbased and movie experience based reviews.


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