Arguably, Mary Poppins is one of the more iconic titles in Disney’s film library. So when it was announced that Rob Marshall had signed on to direct the sequel, Mary Poppins Returns, it’s easy to understand why most felt uneasy about the announcement. How could anyone build upon a film which some regard as being practically perfect in every way? Well, for starters you realize that there’s no way anyone could match the magic Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke conjured on the screen so many years ago. Secondly, you had better make sure that whoever steps into Andrew’s role is more than up to the challenge. If expectations can be crushing, then Marshall had to be feeling it throughout the shoot.
Luckily, Mary Poppins Returns is an utter joy to behold. Emily Blunt (who is working with Marshall once again) gives a stunning performance which is both a tip of the cap to Andrews while adding her take on the role. Screenwriter David Magee didn’t attempt to recreate a tale which has already been told. Magee manages to take the film in a logical direction in keeping with the spirit of the original movie. Don’t go in expecting the sequel to match the original. Very few releases would be on that sort of level. What I can assure audiences of is how much fun they’ll have while watching the film.
Lin-Manuel Miranda, Emily Mortimer, and Ben Whishaw are also each solid in the film as well. Miranda serves as the perfect compliment to Blunt’s Poppins. Mortimer and Whishaw (who play older versions of the children from the original film) give the film an emotional backbone. Meryl Streep and Colin Firth each take on important supporting roles and play important roles in this narrative.
One of the biggest reasons for Marshall’s latest film being a success can be attributed to the elaborate costumes and uplifting score. Sandy Powell is at her best when she’s crafting the look of Poppins and her pals as they visit the animated world found on the outside of a bowl. .Overall, Mary Poppins Returns is far from perfect, but I can’t imagine a better holiday movie to see with the family.