Spit spot! Emily Blunt is prac­ti­cally per­fect Mary for Pop­pins se­quel

Calhoun Times - - Life Gordon - By Jo­ce­lyn Noveck AP Na­tional Writer

In the half- cen­tury since the orig­i­nal “Mary Pop­pins” de­buted, we’ve learned a lot about re­fined sugar, frankly none of it good. Doc­tors tell us it can lead to obe­sity, heart dis­ease and all sorts of other detri­ments to our health.

But let’s face it, there are times when a lit­tle sugar — oh what the heck, let’s say a spoon­ful — is just what we need, if not for health then for hap­pi­ness. So it’s sweet news in­deed that “Mary Pop­pins Re­turns,” a se­quel 54 years in com­ing, pro­vides just that spoon­ful of hap­pi­ness in the form of Emily Blunt, prac­ti­cally per­fect in ev­ery way as the heir to Julie An­drews.

“Spit spot!” ‘ ‘ Pish Posh!“‘‘ Jigetty Jog!” ( Did we spell that right?) These Pop­pins- isms slip ef­fort­lessly off Blunt’s tongue. It’s also no sim­ple feat to gaze at one’s re­flec­tion and say “prac­ti­cally per­fect in ev­ery way” and not seem ego­tis­ti­cal, but Blunt’s easy warmth and charm shine through.

Of course she can also sing, and dance, with part­ners both live and an­i­mated. And she’s funny — wit­ness her price­less in­dig­na­tion when a child asks how much she weighs. But then she can spin on a dime and con­vey that steely Pop­pins nerve, that sense that in a cri­sis, she knows ex­actly what must be done, and every­body else had bet­ter stand aside.

There’s fur­ther happy news here: It’s not just Blunt who’s at the top of her game in this thor­oughly de­light­ful en­ter­prise by di­rec­tor Rob Mar­shall and a crack team of artists de­voted to both hon­or­ing a time- worn clas­sic and find­ing some­thing new to say.

The vi­su­als are lovely, from the oil paint­ings in the open­ing cred­its to the bal­loon- filled spring fair at the end. And Sandy Pow­ell’s cos­tumes are fab­u­lous, es­pe­cially the reds and blues and stripes and polka dots that adorn Mary, from her strawhat­ted head to her turned- out feet ( What we wouldn’t give for one of those slen­der- waisted, caped over­coats, or polka- dot bow ties). And those candy- hued clothes that Mary, Jack and the Banks kids wear in the cen­ter­piece scene mix­ing live ac­tion and an­i­ma­tion? They’re lit­er­ally hand- painted, to de­lec­ta­ble ef­fect.

Blunt’s star power is com­ple­mented here by ap­peal­ing turns from Lin- Manuel Mi­randa as the afore- men­tioned Jack, a kind- hearted lamp­lighter who once worked for Bert the chim­ney sweep ( aka Dick Van Dyke); Ben Whishaw and Emily Mor­timer as the el­der Banks chil­dren, a slimy Colin Firth as the bank chief, and, for ic­ing on the cake, a flame- haired Meryl Streep as Mary’s vaguely East­ern Euro­pean cousin Topsy (“Vat do you VANT?”).

Then there’s the ic­ing on the ic­ing: a cameo by Van Dyke him­self, still spry at 92, that is hands- down the emo­tional peak of the film — even be­fore he starts to twin­kle those toes.

The set­ting is De­pres­sion- era Lon­don, where wid­owed Michael lives with his three young chil­dren at 17 Cherry Tree Lane, strug­gling to stay afloat. Sis­ter Jane, a la­bor or­ga­nizer, lives in a flat across town.

As we be­gin, Michael learns he’s be­hind on loan pay­ments, and the bank wants to take his house. He’s given five days to find proof that his fa­ther owned shares there, which could save the home. Search­ing des­per­ately, he comes across an old kite but tosses it in the trash.

Luck­ily it’s a windy day, and who flies in with that kite? Yep, Mary, emerg­ing from the sky with her bot­tom­less bag and um­brella (If you’re cry­ing al­ready here, and you might be, you’re in trou­ble). “It’s won­der­ful to see you,” ex­claim a shocked Michael and Jane. “Yes it is, isn’t it,” Mary replies.

Just like that, Mary’s slid­ing up the ban­is­ter again. First order of busi­ness: the chil­dren’s bath, which turns into a wild ad­ven­ture down the drain and into the col­or­ful sea, fly­ing dol­phins and all.

“Can You Imag­ine That?” Mary sings, one of the catchy orig­i­nal songs by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman.

/ Dis­ney

Emily Blunt as Mary Pop­pins in “Mary Pop­pins Re­turns,” a se­quel 54 years in com­ing that pro­vides a spoon­ful of hap­pi­ness in the form of Blunt, prac­ti­cally per­fect in ev­ery way as the heir to Julie An­drews.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.