Watson Reviews: Mary Poppins Returns (Spoiler Free)

What has been described as the most famous live action Disney film was rife for a sequel of sorts.

Though it’s a classic, I was never really a fan. I might have even skipped it except for the Oscar talk for Emily Blunt (A Quiet Place).

But there is no dread going into this one, so let’s see if Disney can entertain me for a couple of hours!

WHAT IT’S ABOUT:

Set decades after the original, Michael Banks has lost his wife and is raising his three kids alone. His sister is there to help, but amidst the Great Depression things are hard and the family is on the verge of losing their house.

Enter Mary Poppins.

WHAT WORKED:

  • She IS practically perfect! Emily Blunt was a delight. The Oscar talk is warranted as she does the impossible: makes a legendary role made famous by THE Julie Andrews her own. Every look, every smirk, every line she is incredible.
  • The visual sequences are a spoonful of sugar. This film should via for Production Design and Special FX because both were first rate. If their were an Oscar for Best Choreography, they’d deserve it as well. It was a fun visual experience.
  • Great to see classic Disney animation. I loved seeing old school Disney animation interacting with the live action characters. It had been a while since we’d seen that iconic style.

WHAT DIDN’T WORK:

  • It was just so unnecessary. So much of this film treads on nostalgia. It is almost a remake where instead of a distant father, the conflict here is bad financial planning.
  • The Banks adults are a drag! Ben Whishaw (The Hour) has zero screen presence and is flat in everyone frame. Emily Mortimer (Shutter Island) is completely underutilized so I’ll give her an incomplete.
  • Some absolute legends seemed tacked on. Look…I’m glad they did. I loved seeing Dick Van Dyke (Mary Poppins!!!) tap dance one more time. You could see the genuine glee in the faces of Blunt and the fellow castmates when he appears. But like Meryl Streep (Mamma Mia) and Angela Landsbury (Beauty and the Beast), his scene feels shoehorned in for the sake of an appearance. Sadly, this also felt true for the great Lin-Manuel Miranda (Hamilton). He was great, but everything he did seemed to be the result of director Rob Marshall (Chicago) and the writers saying “we’ve haven’t had the greatest creator in Broadway history do anything in while. Give him something pithy to say!”

FINAL THOUGHTS:

This was a sweet and pretty movie. I liked the production but it is no classic. Blunt’s performance is the only lasting impact. She’s that great.

Overall, I give Mary Poppins Returns a score of 8.5 “Spoonful of Sugars” out of 10.

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