Personally, I think it’s time we recognize Emily Blunt as a national treasure. To go from portraying the pregnant heroine in the scariest monster movie ever, to becoming Mary Poppins in the same year, is no mean feat. And who knew she could sing like that! I confess, I had strong misgivings when I heard Disney was doing a sequel to one of my favorite movies. It sounded sacrilegious. I anticipated a disaster.
Not so. The movie is a wonder, and to say I was pleasantly surprised is an understatement. I was transported. Yes, it is a reverent homage to the original Julie Andrews/Dick Van Dyke vehicle, but it is also a great film in its own right. From the impressionistic credits at the beginning, to its heartfelt conclusion, I was enthralled. Truth be told, watching Mary come back down to earth with her umbrella held just so made me choke back a tear.
From cannons to kites, I enjoyed seeing the parallelisms between the two films. In the original, Ed Wynn plays Uncle Albert, whose infectious laughter makes the children float to the ceiling. In the new film, the children are introduced to Cousin Topsy (Meryl Streep), whose house turns upside down every second Wednesday–and yes, the children wind up on the ceiling. In MP, the cast jumps into a chalk drawing done by Bert, the chimney sweep, (Dick Van Dyke) and have an animated adventure. In MPR, they leap/fall into the illustration on an antique vase to mingle with animated characters. The first film has a marvelous sequence with Bert and his gang doing an elaborate choreography number. The sequel has Jack, the lamp lighter, (Lin-Manuel Miranda) with his own crew doing their dance. MP concludes with flying a kite and MPR flies balloons. The one sequence without parallel in the original is the bathtub scene, and it is a delight to behold.
Mary Poppins Returns is a feast for the eyes and the ears, worth every penny of the price of admission to the big screen. The sights are eye-popping, the songs are superb. It is aimed at the child in all of us, in the best possible meaning of that term. (My ten-year-old granddaughter gave it two enthusiastic thumbs up.) I intend to see it many more times.
Mary Poppins Returns is as magical as movies get.