Mary Poppins Returns, not Practically Perfect, but still good

Mary Poppins Returns (2018) – Film Review

Mary Poppins Returns sees Michael and Jane Banks, the original children from the 1964 Mary Poppins, return 25 years later after the bank threatens on foreclose on their beloved family home.

Mary Poppins Returns 2018 - film poster
Mary Poppins Returns 2018 – film poster

Michael Banks (Ben Whishaw) is now a widower, living in the old family home at 17 Cherry Tree Lane with his three children whose mother died a year earlier.

His sister Jane (Emily Mortimer) takes after their mother, a campaigner on social issues but there is a shadow of sadness cast over the film following a personal loss felt by the family.

The bank at which Michael works, and at which their father (played superbly by David Tomlinson in the original) was a partner, is threatening to foreclose on a loan that he took out following the untimely death of his wife.

To stave off the threat of foreclosure within the week, Michael must find a share certificate which will save the family home from repossession.

The family is in jeopardy, and after Michael throws out the kite made famous in song in the original film at his most stressed out moment, Mary Poppins (Emily Blunt) intervenes.  

Get set, then, for a new set of musical numbers – some of which are set in an animated world which reflects a classic Disney style as the magical nanny returns.

Mary Poppins Returns – with some beloved cameos

And yes, there are cameos too – some which you might miss, like the original Jane (Karen Dotrice) stopping and asking for directions in the street – but other more recognisable ones which I won’t spoil.

The story is decent – with many nods to the original film, but unfortunately the songs won’t linger in the memory like some of the all-time classics which many who have seen the original will still be able to sing.

Lin-Manuel Miranda, a famous Broadway composer, playwright, singer and actor turns up in a prominent role as a Lamplighter – like a chimney sweep – but while his performance is fine for musical theatre it lacked a cinematic shine.

He’s responsible for the song and dance numbers but unfortunately, like Emily Blunt’s (very measured) portrayal of Mary Poppins, suffers from comparison with Dick Van Dyke and Julie Andrews warm and charismatic performances from the original.

By comparison, Wishaw and Mortimer, as Michael and Jane, play their roles memorably alongside the younger Banks children and the starry series of cameos keep the plot moving.

Perhaps the story needed a bit of pizazz, though, it was functional at best with what little jeopardy there was unevenly added to the film to take it to a predictable conclusion.

It’s still a decent, if flawed, family story which relies a little on the original to help with the magic of the sequel.

Mary Poppins Returns (U; very mild threat; 130 minutes)

Director(s): Rob Marshall

Cast Includes: Emily Blunt, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Ben Whishaw, Emily Mortimer, Julie Walters, Dick Van Dyke, Angela Lansbury, Colin Firth, Meryl Streep

Summary: MARY POPPINS RETURNS is a musical fantasy adventure sequel in which the magical nanny returns to once again look after the Banks children.

Rating: **** (Mary Poppins Returns, not Practically Perfect, but still good)