Let’s start this with an obvious fact, Mary Poppins is a classic. It was a big part of many people’s childhood, a film that families could sit down and watch together. A story of flying nannies, magical paintings and worlds where anything was possible, what was there not to like. It captured the imagination of a generation, and when it was announced that there was to be a sequel, there was more then a few people thinking how could they possibly do it justice?
I’ll admit, I had my doubts but as soon as the trailers began to come out, I became more and more intrigued. I simply adore Mary Poppins, and didn’t want to see it changed by a sequel pushing it a little bit too far. But there was no worries of that here. The moment in the trailers that reassured me the most that it wouldn’t take it over the edge was when I saw the animation. It had that same charm and simplicity, a real throwback to the original. Yes this was going to be new and it was going to be different but it still had those elements of the original Mary Poppins that we all know and love.
Stepping into the hugely famous role of the practically perfect nanny is Emily Blunt, and she completely makes it her own. In a role as iconic, it would have been wrong for her to try and imitate Julie Andrews. She had to take Mary Poppins and make the role her own, and she does exactly that. She brings a more modern sass to the part, whilst maintaining that Poppins charm and sophistication, making everything look effortless in that simply magical way. Lin Manuel Miranda shines in the role of lamp lighter Jack. Whilst there are links to Dick Van Dyke’s Bert, Jack is a new and instantly lovable character, bringing light to the lives of the Bank’s family in more than one way. Miranda uses his well known flair to add a suitably modern twist whilst seamlessly fitting in to the story and impressing with his dancing alongside his fellow lamp lighters.
Ben Whishaw was the perfect choice for the role of a grown up Michael Banks. He is able to convey both the serious father trying to hold things together for his family and show a wonderfully innocent side as he struggles with his own feelings. Emily Mortimor is a wonderful fit as the grown up Jane, a worker with her family’s best interest at heart and her scenes with Jack are brilliantly charming. Throw in a number of celebrity roles including Meryl Streep, Colin Firth and Julie Walters, alongside cameos from Dick Van Dyke, Angela Lansbury and original Jane Karen Dotrice, and it’s a dream of a cast. Not to mention the three adorable child stars Pixie Davis (Anabel), Nathanael Salah (John) and Joel Dawson (Georgie) who could melt the hardest of hearts.
Whilst it’s 2018 and this is a sequel, Mary Poppins Returns still has that feel of the classic original. Mary appears when things are at their worse for the family, and fills their lives with a dash of magic, opening their eyes to the possibilities. The songs may not be as legendary as those of the Sherman Brothers but they still get your toes tapping and bring a smile to your face. ‘Trip a little light fantastic’ will bring back memories of those roof top dancing chimney sweeps and ‘Can you imagine that’ will remind you of the true magic of the one and only Mary Poppins. They made the right decision not to bring it up to the modern day, that would have been a step too far. It wouldn’t be Poppins without the fog filled streets of London, flying kites in the park and trips to the hustle and bustle of the bank.
This is a sequel that will please those who fell in love with the original, those who were enchanted by the magic in every day objects, and those who are new to the world of Mary Poppins. In a world where everything seems to be doom and gloom at the moment, this is exactly the sort of film we need, it’s joyful, full of colour and the message of the only way is up. It’s a film that the whole family could sit down and watch together, a film that opens up a world of wonder where everything is possible, even the impossible