Mary Pop­pins re­turns to Cherry Tree Lane

The world’s favourite nanny is back with a car­pet­bag of magic tricks, a new sound­track and a su­per­cal­ifrag­ilis­tic cast

YOU (South Africa) - - CONTENTS - COM­PILED BY SANDY COOK

NEED a spoon­ful of sugar to make the of­ten-fraught fes­tive sea­son medicine go down? Well, here you go then: a dose of feel­good magic and tra-la-la tunes bound to ban­ish the blues and give you re­newed en­ergy to face the world.

All you need to hear are the words “Mary Pop­pins” and you know you’re in for a treat. Add a stel­lar cast, a whole new playlist, sparkling spe­cial ef­fects and a com­pelling story and – voila! – day made.

Mary Pop­pins Re­turns is one of the most ea­gerly an­tic­i­pated movies this Christ­mas, a se­quel to the beloved 1964 film that made Julie An­drews a world­wide star, spawned a brand-new word and was way ahead of its time.

Now the nanny who sails down from the sky to sort things out good and proper is back. A select group of Hol­ly­wood ex­ec­u­tives and film dis­trib­u­tors were treated to a pre-screen­ing and, al­though sworn to se­crecy about the plot, they couldn’t help gush­ing about it. “It’s my favourite movie of the year,” one said.

“I grew up with Mary Pop­pins and the se­quel ab­so­lutely met my ex­pec­ta­tions.”

Here’s more about this su­per­cal­ifrag­ilis­tic ex­trav­a­ganza.

THE PLOT

The story opens in De­pres­sion-era Lon­don, 25 years after the orig­i­nal, which was set in 1910 Ed­war­dian Lon­don.

The Banks sib­lings Jane (played by Emily Mor­timer) and Michael (Ben Wishaw) are all grown up. Michael lives with his three chil­dren and their house­keeper Ellen ( Julie Wal­ters) in the house on Cherry Tree Lane where Michael and Jane grew up.

When Michael loses his wife, Mary Pop­pins – this time brought to life by Emily Blunt – de­scends on the fam­ily to add her brand of feel-bet­ter-now en­chant­ment into their sad lives. She’s ac­com­pa­nied by her side­kick, the street lamp­lighter Jack (Lin-Manuel Mi­randa), a re­boot of Dick van Dyke’s chim­ney sweep in the orig­i­nal. Dick makes a dap­per re­turn in the new movie as the son of Mr Dawes, his char­ac­ter in the orig­i­nal. Then there’s Meryl Streep as Topsy, Mary’s ec­cen­tric cousin, An­gela Lans­bury as the bal­loon lady and Colin Firth with his stiffest up­per lip as Wil­liam Weather­all Wilkins, the new pres­i­dent of Fidelity Fidu­ciary Bank.

WHY NOW?

Di­rec­tor Rob Mar­shall ex­plains he wanted to rein­tro­duce Mary Pop­pins as an an­ti­dote to a world of­ten weighed down by gloom and doom.

“I just feel like this is some­thing we need so badly,” he says. “We live in such a frag­ile time that we need this film.

“I needed to turn off the news and be launched into a mag­i­cal world where won­drous things can still hap­pen and there’s hope.”

THE MAGIC OF PLAY­ING MARY

Emily Blunt was “com­pletely gob­s­macked” when Rob Mar­shall called her and of­fered her the role.

“He just said, ‘We’re go­ing to do Mary

Pop­pins,” she told Ellen De­Generes. “I was com­pletely shocked and slightly ter­ri­fied. I felt my hair blow back.”

But Rob knew she was the one and he was right: with her twin­kling eyes, nonon­sense air and de­li­ciously plummy Bri­tish ac­cent, 35-year-old Emily is per­fect as Mary.

One critic de­scribes her as “ab­so­lutely su­perb – this per­for­mance puts her slap­bang in the mid­dle of the best ac­tress Os­car race”.

This is a mu­si­cal, of course, and Emily has sev­eral songs to de­liver, but she earned her singing chops in Dis­ney’s Into the Woods and is in fine form again.

Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman, the song­writ­ers be­hind Hair­spray and Char­lie & the Choco­late Fac­tory, wrote the sound­track to suit Emily’s voice.

“To be a per­son to birth some of these songs has been such a huge hon­our,” the ac­tress says.

“I think I felt less pres­sure ap­proach­ing it in this way than I would do­ing an adap­ta­tion of some­thing that’s been done be­fore. You’ve only got songs that have ef­fec­tively been catered to me and my abil­ity.”

Emily made a point of avoid­ing the orig­i­nal movie, which she saw as a child. “No­body’s go­ing to out-do Julie An­drews. This is just go­ing to be my ver­sion of her.”

Mary Pop­pins Re­turns will be in SA cin­e­mas from 28 De­cem­ber.

Emily Blunt, who plays the new Mary Pop­pins, says she was shocked when she was asked to play the role. She made a point of not watch­ing the orig­i­nal movie star­ring Julie An­drews (BE­LOW RIGHT).

Meryl Streep as Topsy

Lin-Manuel Mi­randa as Jack

Julie Wal­ters as Ellen

An­gela Lans­bury as the Bal­loon Lady

Colin Firth as Wil­liam Weather­all-Wilkins

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