Mary Pop­pins is back with a spoon­ful of nos­tal­gia

Ev­ery­one’s favourite nanny, Mary Pop­pins, flies in bring­ing a spoon­ful of nos­tal­gia to this week’s movie news

Kentish Express Ashford & District - What's On - - NEWS -

Aspoonful of nos­tal­gia - make that sev­eral heaped spoon­fuls - helps the joy-in­fused medicine of Rob Mar­shall’s 1930s-set mu­si­cal fan­tasy go down in the most de­light­ful way.

Based on the books by P.L. Travers, Mary Pop­pins Re­turns pre­scribes two hours of pure, sen­ti­ment-soaked es­capism to ban­ish the win­ter blues and jiggedy-jog our weary souls. It’s a lav­ishly staged carousel of whoop-in­duc­ing song and dance num­bers that kicks up its pol­ished heels in the face of cyn­i­cism and af­fec­tion­ately harks back to the 1964 Os­car­win­ning clas­sic. Mu­si­cal re­frains from Chim Chim Cher-ee, Let’s Go Fly A Kite and The Per­fect Nanny among oth­ers are seam­lessly wo­ven into the lus­trous fab­ric of Mar­shall’s lav­ishly em­broi­dered pic­ture. Karen Dotrice, who played Jane Banks in the orig­i­nal, has a lovely cameo as an el­e­gant lady in search of 19 Cherry Tree Lane and Dick Van Dyke proves he can still step in time as chair­man of Fidelity Fidu­ciary Bank.

Emily Blunt is prac­ti­cally per­fect in ev­ery way, mak­ing her en­trance with a rev­er­en­tial nod to Julie An­drews - “Close your mouth, Michael. We are still not a cod­fish!” - as the Lon­don-born ac­tress makes this it­er­a­tion of the role her own with ef­fort­less ef­fi­ciency. A new song­book by com­poser Marc Shaiman and lyri­cist Scott Wittman, writ­ers of the Hair­spray and Char­lie And The Choco­late Fac­tory stage mu­si­cals, lacks the im­me­di­ately hummable melodies con­jured by Os­car win­ners Richard M. Sher­man and Robert B. Sher­man.

How­ever, when dit­ties hit their emo­tional mark, they are spit spot on.

A fa­ther’s heart-wrench­ing lament to his late wife is de­liv­ered with tear­ful re­straint by Ben Whishaw, while Meryl Streep lit­er­ally swings from a chan­de­lier dur­ing her scen­esteal­ing solo, Turn­ing Tur­tle. A year af­ter Michael Banks (Whishaw) lost his wife Kate, and with her the light in his heart to guide their chil­dren Annabel (Pixie Davies), John (Nathanael Saleh) and Ge­orgie (Joel Daw­son). His rab­bler­ous­ing sis­ter Jane (Emily Mor­timer) is help­ing to care for the brood but the grief-stricken fa­ther is three months in ar­rears on a bank loan se­cured against 17 Cherry Tree Lane. Un­less Michael can re­pay his dues by the end of the week, the fam­ily, in­clud­ing house­maid Ellen (Julie Wal­ters), will be home­less. Thank­fully, a high-fly­ing kite snags mag­i­cal nanny Mary Pop­pins (Blunt), who de­scends serenely to rekin­dle sparks of joy.

She is aided by lu­mi­nous Cock­ney lamp­lighter Jack (Lin-manuel Mi­randa) and Topsy (Meryl Streep), her ec­cen­tric “sec­ond cousin... many times re­moved”. Be­fore you can say su­per­cal­ifrag­ilis­tic­ex­pi­ali­do­cious, Mar­shall has us grin­ning ear to ear as we ac­com­pany the Banks clan on their fan­tas­ti­cal odyssey.

Last year, we bathed in the glow of The Great­est Show­man. This Christ­mas, it’s an ex­ceed­ingly jolly ‘ol­i­day.

Up, up and away... Emily Blunt as Mary Pop­pins

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