Chad Reviews "Mary Poppins Returns"
I simply cannot imagine a world without Disney in it, and neither can most other people currently walking the earth. From television shows to music to films to their theme parks around the world and the merchandise therein, practically everyone has a Disney story. They were even ahead of the home video curve by re-releasing their classic films from time to time for a limited theatrical run in order to keep their established properties fresh in people’s minds while still creating new ones.
It is because of this business model that I saw “Mary Poppins” for the first time, and I could not help but be swept up (pun intended) in the merry and mirthful world created, with Julie Andrews in the title role that even got her an Academy Award for Best Actress. Unfortunately, the author of the source material, P.L. Travers, was so upset with the portrayal that she forbade any further adaptations of her work by Disney. Now however, we have a continuation of that tale with “Mary Poppins Returns” with Emily Blunt in the title role.
Set twenty years after the original film, the Banks children (Michael, played by Ben Whishaw and Jane, played by Emily Mortimer) have grown up and are in the grips of the Great Depression (known here as the “Great Slump”). Michael is a recent widower, still grieving over his life while trying to manage a pile of debt that could cost him the home he shares with his three children: Annabel (Pixie Davies), John (Nathaniel Saleh), and Georgie (Joel Dawson). Due to the family’s rough stretch, the children have been forced to grow up faster than they should, denying them the simple parts of growing up they need. With a little help from a local lamplighter named Jack (Lin-Manuel Miranda), Mary Poppins arrives to help them turn things around.
After seeing the trailers, I went into this film genuinely excited when coupled with the memories I wrote about earlier, but what I got was not exactly what I was expecting. I am operating under the assumption that this story is a bit closer to Travers’ material as this feels darker and colder than its predecessor with an overall gloominess and sense of dread in the Banks household that Mary Poppins tries to overcome. Blunt does a great job, but Miranda never quite seems to fit in with the cast to the point of annoyance by bringing a stage actor’s mentality to a big screen production. It has it’s moments, but it is hard for me to recommend “Mary Poppins Returns” to anyone looking for light-hearted holiday fare as it will take MUCH more than a spoonful of sugar to make THIS medicine go down (pun also intended).