Poppins’ slavish sequel
There’s no one right way to reboot a beloved property.
For Mary Poppins Returns, director Rob Marshall and writers David Magee and John DeLuca have taken the “ain’t broke, don’t fix it” approach when it comes to creating a sequel to the multiple-Oscarwinning 1964 film Mary Poppins.
Beloved nanny Mary Poppins does indeed return, this time in the form of Emily Blunt, but despite its best efforts, the film around her doesn’t quite achieve lift-off.
The character of Mary Poppins is positively staunch about magic, fun and imagination, and her former charges Michael (Ben Whishaw) and Jane Banks (Emily Mortimer) have lost their sense of play.
Michael’s a widower with three young children, Jane is a workers’ rights activist.
The grieving Michael is on the verge of losing their family home to the bank because if there’s one thing a Disney reboot needs, it’s seriously heavy-duty issues such as “home foreclosure”.
The original film found poignancy in Michael and Jane simply wanting to spend more time with their busy parents. But Mary Poppins Returns just feels a bit too busy for the truly emotional moments to breathe, such as how the Banks children, Annabel (Pixie Davies), John (Nathanael Saleh) and Georgie (Joel Dawson) mourn the loss of their mother.
Blunt’s Mary Poppins is crisp, proper, with a hint of barely contained chaos lingering around her toothy smile.
Hamilton creator and star Lin-Manuel Miranda plays the equivalent of Dick Van Dyke’s Bert as Jack, one of Bert’s chimney sweeps who moved on to lamp-lighting. While Blunt and Miranda are indeed charming, they are missing a sense of the innocent playfulness and mischief of Julie Andrews and Van Dyke.
Perhaps the real way to pay tribute to Mary Poppins is not to recreate what once was, but to find magic in new ways of seeing.
Emily Blunt asMary Poppins, Pixie Davies as Annabel Banks, Nathanael Saleh as John Banks and Joel Dawson as Georgie Banks in Mary Poppins Returns.