Prac­ti­cally per­fect in ev­ery way

MARY POP­PINS RE­TURNS (U)

Llanelli Star - - Film Reviews -

A★★★★★

SPOON­FUL 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 PL 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 Os­car-win­ning clas­sic di­rected by Robert Steven­son.

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.

Plot threads are ad­mit­tedly gos­samer thin and no­tice­ably frayed in places.

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 – with an east Euro­pean ac­cent of hys­ter­i­cally in­de­ci­pher­able ori­gin

– swings from a chan­de­lier dur­ing her scene-steal­ing solo, Turn­ing Tur­tle.

It has been a year since Michael Banks (Whishaw) lost his wife Kate, and with it the light in his heart to guide their chil­dren Annabel (Pixie Davies), John (Nathanael Saleh) and Ge­orgie (Joel Daw­son).

His rab­ble-rous­ing sis­ter Jane (Emily Mor­timer) helps 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 in full by the end of the week, the house will be seized by bank chair­man Wil­liam Wilkins (Colin Firth).

The fam­ily, in­clud­ing clucky house­maid Ellen (Julie Wal­ters), will be home­less on the streets of Lon­don.

Thank­fully, a high-fly­ing kite snags mag­i­cal nanny Mary Pop­pins (Blunt), who rekin­dles sparks of joy in her for­mer wards, aided by Cock­ney lamp­lighter Jack (Lin-Manuel Mi­randa) and Topsy (Streep), her ec­cen­tric “se­cond cousin... many times re­moved”.

Be­fore you can say su­per­cal­ifrag­ilis­tic­ex­pi­ali­do­cious, Mar­shall has us grin­ning from ear to ear as we ac­com­pany the Banks clan on their fan­tas­ti­cal odyssey.

The se­quel’s cen­tre­piece, Trip The Light Fan­tas­tic, is mod­elled on Step In Time with its ac­ro­batic troupe of lamp­lighters and syn­co­pated chore­og­ra­phy, and the aptly ti­tled Nowhere To Go But Up soars cour­tesy of An­gela Lans­bury.

This Christ­mas and be­yond, it’s an ex­ceed­ingly jolly ‘ol­i­day with Mary Pop­pins Re­turns.

Emily Mor­timer as Jane Banks, Ben Whishaw as Michael Banks, Nathanael Saleh as John Banks, Joel Daw­son as Ge­orgie Banks and Emily Blunt as Mary Pop­pins Lin-Manuel Mi­randa as Jack (cen­tre) Dick Van Dyke in the new movie Emily Blunt as Mary Pop­pins

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