The reviews are in for ‘Mary Poppins Returns’, which has been hailed as supercalafrigil supercalafrala supercala… really good, people are saying it’s really good, OK?
The Disney film comes more than 50 years after the original film was released, but is set just two decades later, with Jane and Michael Banks now grown up with children of their own.
Emily Blunt takes over the title role from Dame Julie Andrews, and has gone down very well with critics, as has her new right-hand man, Lin-Manuel Miranda, best known as the creator of ‘Hamilton’.
However, while some heralded the sequel’s homage to the 1964 classic, others have suggested it borrows from the original so heavily that it doesn’t really stand up on its own merits.
That it’s taken almost 55 years might be cause for concern that this is a mere cash-grab, a cynical rummage around Mary’s bottomless bag for a few more coins, but ’Mary Poppins Returns’ has boundless creativity, stacks of charm and not a cynical second. If it’s not quite practically perfect, it comes close enough.
Diehard fans of the first film will very probably love this sequel, for the undoubted detail and fervour with which it reproduces the template, though with a little more of a Broadway feel than it had in 1964. I admire it for its craftsmanship and technique, like a machine for creating nostalgia.
In general, every character and every sequence in the new film echoes a character or a sequence from the old one… It’s cleverly done, but the film might have felt more worthwhile if it had anything in it that wasn’t a blatant imitation.
‘Mary Poppins Returns’, a sequel set 30 years after the first film, isn’t the immortal children’s movie that the singular, luminous, slightly screw-loose Disney original was. Yet it’s a rapturous piece of nostalgia — a film that devotes itself, in every madly obsessive frame, to making you feel happy in the guileless way a movie still could back in 1964.
Rather than carrying on the story in the ordinary sense, [Disney] has taken the same approach they did with ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’, crafting a follow-up that exists in what I can only describe as a state of quantum nostalgia.
Sticking close to the enduring classic’s template while injecting plenty of freshness to give the follow-up its own distinct repro vitality, this lovingly crafted production delivers both nostalgia and novelty. Ideally cast from top to toe, and graced by tuneful songs... this is a charmer only cynics could resist.
The glossy production value is all that dazzles in a movie built on flaccid plotting, derivative musical numbers (like the songs from the original, but performed by a drunken cover band) and an eponymous turn from Emily Blunt that begins as a curiosity (the accent is Maggie Smith’s Dowager Countess on helium), but gradually evolves into a grating two-dimensional cipher.
It’s the casting of Mary Poppins herself that is key... and Emily Blunt absolutely nails it... [capturing] the essence of Julie Andrews’ Mary while making the role her own. Following on from her gripping turn in ′A Quiet Place’ in the spring, her performance here surely brings her into the running for a Best Actress Oscar nomination – and that golden statue would be very well deserved.
“The nostalgia here could easily have been very cloying. Instead, it adds to the richness and mystery. In an era of superhero franchises where sequels to successful movies turn up almost instantly, Mary Poppins’s return shows that sometimes it pays to wait. Half a century on, her allure hasn’t faded at all.”
‘Mary Poppins Returns’ arrives in UK cinemas on Friday 21 December.