MARY POPPINS RETURNS (G)
A SECOND SPOONFUL OF SUGAR DELIGHTS IN EVERY WAY
DIRECTOR: ROB MARSHALL (CHICAGO)
STARRING: EMILY BLUNT, COLIN FIRTH, BEN WHISHAW, EMILY MORTIMER, PIXIE DAVIES
The most important thing to bear in mind about the delightful Mary Poppins Returns is that it is an original sequel, and not some kind of secondhand remake.
The 1964 Disney production of Mary Poppins, starring the great Julie Andrews, remains one of the finest productions ever created in the name of family entertainment.
While Mary Poppins Returns cannot hope to match its undeniably classic predecessor in any given department, it does not tarnish the first movie’s legacy in any way.
In fact, it polishes, broadens and secures the appeal of a wonderful character for generations to come.
The production design is gorgeous, never once going in for the visual overkill that blights so many modern movies. Same goes for the occasional blending of live-action with animation, and also a style of costuming and make-up that is gloriously simple and strikingly evocative of old-time London.
Oh, and in case you were wondering, each and every new musical composition stands up to lengthy scrutiny (and instant hummability) when measured against the immortal Mary Poppins songbook.
This refreshing new Poppins adventure is set 20 years or so after the events of the original film, which lands us somewhere in the vicinity of the Great Depression.
Sensing her no-nonsense fixing skills are needed once more by the Banks family, Mary (charmingly played by Emily Blunt) descends from the skies via a child’s kite, and gets straight down to business.
There is a lot that Miss Poppins needs to sort out.
Her old friend Michael Banks (Ben Whishaw) is now all grown-up, and grappling with too many problems at once in the wake of his wife’s recent death. Despite the unwavering support from his sister Jane (Emily Mortimer), Michael is struggling to keep a roof over the heads of his three young children.
Annabel (Pixie Davies), John (Nathanael Saleh) and George (Joel Dawson) have independently learned that their home could soon be swiped by a conniving financier (Colin Firth) unless something is done, and fast.
What better mentor could this plucky trio have than Mary Poppins to ensure that good prevails over evil?
Like the recent Paddington films, Mary Poppins Returns quickly settles into a joyous, happy-go-lucky groove that you can’t help but hope won’t be ending in a hurry.
Thankfully, this is one production where you really do appreciate the extra screen time and less-frenzied pacing.
EMILY BLUNT STARS IN MARY POPPINS RETURNS, A FILM WHICH SECURES THE APPEAL OF A WONDERFUL CHARACTER FOR GENERATIONS TO COME.