Mary Poppins Returns
Emily Blunt is Mary Poppins, Joel Dawson is Georgie, Pixie Davies is Annabel and Nathanael Saleh is John in Disney’s ‘Mary Poppins Returns,’ a sequel to the 1964 ‘Mary Poppins,’ which takes audiences on an entirely new adventure with the practically perfect nanny and the Banks family.
Photo Credit: Jay Maidment

Title: ‘Mary Poppins Returns’

Director: Rob Marshall (‘Into the Woods,’ ‘Chicago’)

Starring: Emily Blunt (‘The Girl on the Train‘), Lin-Manuel Miranda, Ben Whishaw, Emily Mortimer, Julie Walters, Pixie Davies, Nathanael Saleh, introducing Joel Dawson, Colin Firth and Meryl Streep

A whole new generation of children can now embark on magical adventures with an iconic and enigmatic governess. With the upcoming family film, ‘Mary Poppins Returns,’ the title character is back to help the next group of Banks children find the joy and wonder missing in their lives following a personal loss. The nanny once again appears to the English family in an all new original musical and sequel to the hit 1964 fantasy movie, ‘Mary Poppins.’

‘Mary Poppins Returns’ will be released in U.S. theaters next Wednesday, December 19, by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures. The Oscar-nominated and Emmy Award-winning musical film director, Rob Marshall, helmed the follow-up movie, which is based on author PL Travers first children’s book series of the same name.

Set in Depression-era London, ‘Mary Poppins Returns’ follows Michael Banks (Ben Whishaw), who’s now a grown man with a family of his own. He has taken a temporary job with Fidelity Fiduciary Bank in London, the same financial institution that employed his father and grandfather before him. He lives with his three children, Annabel (Pixie Davies), John (Nathanael Saleh) and Georgie (Joel Dawson), at 17 Cherry Tree Lane, but times have become difficult.

The city is in the midst of The Great Slump, so money is tight and the accompanying stress is unavoidable. On top of that, the family is struggling to cope with the recent death of Michael’s wife. As a result, the house is rundown and in a constant state of chaos, despite the efforts of their inefficient yet well-meaning housekeeper, Ellen (Julie Walters).

Michael’s sister, Jane (Emily Mortimer), helps out when she can, but she has inherited her mother’s enthusiasm for good causes and campaigns for workers’ rights, which keeps her busy. With the harsh reality of the times and the burden of their loss weighing heavily on the family, the children find themselves taking on adult responsibilities, and are growing up much too fast. As a result, childlike joy and wonder are missing in their lives.

To make matters worse, the bank’s suspiciously congenial and seemingly altruistic Mr. Wilkins (Colin Firth) begins foreclosure proceedings on the Banks’ home, which sends the already frazzled Michael into a further tailspin. Fortunately, the wind begins to change, as Mary Poppins (Emily Blunt), the practically-perfect nanny whose unique magical skills can turn any ordinary task into a fantastic adventure, enters their lives once again. She teams up with an old friend, Jack (Lin-Manuel Miranda), a charming and eternally optimistic lamplighter, and together they take the Banks’ children on a series of whimsical adventures and introduce them to colorful characters, including Mary’s eccentric cousin, Topsy (Meryl Streep), which brings life, love and laughter back into their home.

The success of ‘Mary Poppins Returns’ living up to the iconic nature of the original film largely depended on the ability of the actress cast to reprise the title role from Julie Andrews, who won the Best Actress Oscar for her portrayal of the heartwarming nanny. Blunt was the perfect choice to step into Mary Poppins’ shoes, as the BAFTA and Golden Globe Award-winning English actress made the iconic role her own. Once she was cast, Blunt developed an ambitious master plan to not only infuse the character with a stylish and charming nature, but make her funny, as well. She perfectly incorporated the nanny’s slightly sharper edge that was featured in the book series, while also maintaining her signature comforting feeling. Blunt also smartly invested a warmth, humor and accessible sensibility into the character in a unique and special way.

Not only did Blunt fiercely bring Mary Poppins back to the screen in another sentimental adventure, Marshall also extraordinarily payed homage to Traver’ overall literary series in his overall captivating adaptation. The filmmaker has always dreamed of conceiving an original musical specifically for film, while also paying tribute to not only the ‘Mary Poppins’ series, but the classic movie musicals of his youth.

A stage director and choreographer who has also helmed and choreographed the screen adaptations of ‘Chicago,’ ‘Nine’ and ‘Into the Woods,’ Marshall knows how to enthrallingly construct a musical. ‘Mary Poppins Returns’ further proves the filmmaker’s abilities to make a classical musical that’s also contemporary and relatable to modern audiences. Along with screenwriter David Magee and frequent producing partner, John DeLuca, Marshall crafted a wholesome, feel good and inspirational story about working together as a family to find happiness and the will to survive.

Not only did Blunt entrancingly embrace Magee and Marshall’s inspirational and gripping vision of Mary Poppins, they all also highlighted the protagonist’s stunning ability to help families move out of a very difficult situation and finding joy and wonder in a dark time. The crew was also helpful in that matter, as they were powerfully able to recreate the unforgettable music from the first movie.

Grammy and Tony Award-winner Marc Shaiman and Tony winner Scott Wittman, who scored the fantasy film together, crafted a beautiful new and original score. The duo crafted unique and eccentric songs that feature brilliant wordplay and profound lyrics. The equally fun tracks and moving ballads will surely make viewers feel like as though they’re in the classic world of ‘Mary Poppins,’ while also experiencing a fresh adventure. Shaiman and Wittman also closely worked with Magee during the writing of the script to ensure that the story and tunes had a stunning balance together.

With the help of the incredible work and collaboration between the cast and crew, Marshall brilliantly kept the essence of Travers’ work in the new film adaptation. The cast and crew not only embraced the classic nature of the author’s books, but by also continued the legacy of the beautiful world that was created in the original ‘Mary Poppins’ movie. The latest filmmakers to entire the title nanny’s magical world stunningly re-imagined it in a completely new way with an original story and score. As a result, ‘Mary Poppins Returns’ is accessible and relatable to audiences today, so that all families can relate to it.

Technical: A-

Acting: B+

Story: B+

Overall: B+

Movie Review Details
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Director Rob Marshall's family adventure fantasy film, 'Mary Poppins Returns'
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By Karen Benardello

As a graduate of LIU Post with a B.F.A in Journalism, Print and Electronic, Karen Benardello serves as ShockYa's Senior Movies & Television Editor. Her duties include interviewing filmmakers and musicians, and scribing movie, television and music reviews and news articles. As a New York City-area based journalist, she's a member of the guilds, New York Film Critics Online and the Women Film Critics Circle.

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