Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Mary Poppins Returns (2018)

Movie Name/Year: Mary Poppins Returns (2018)
Genre: Comedy, Fantasy, Family, Musical
Length: 130 minutes
Rating: PG
Production/Distribution: Walt Disney Pictures, Lucamar Productions, Marc Platt Productions
Director: Rob Marshall
Writers: P.L. Travers, David Magee, Rob Marshall, John DeLuca
Actors: Emily Blunt, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Ben Whishaw, Emily Mortimer, Pixie Davies, Nathanael Saleh, Joel Dawson, Colin Firth, Meryl Streep, Angela Lansbury, Julie Walters, Karen Dotrice, David Warner

Blurb from IMDb: Decades after her original visit, the magical nanny returns to help the Banks siblings and Michael's children through a difficult time in their lives.

Cat’s Point of View:
Mary Poppins (1965) will always hold a special place in my heart. When I created my very first personal web-page, I even featured a GIF of the dancing penguins from one of the animated sequences…dancing atop a television. That’s an entirely different reference. I digress…

To say that I was giddy when I saw the first teasers for the release of Mary Poppins Returns would be an understatement. I was also full of trepidation – because sequelitis is a thing. I was intrigued and horrified at the possibility that they took a stab at this old tale and missed. Such a time gap between films and modern audiences’ love-hate relationship with sequels made it a risky proposition, for sure.

Thankfully, I found that this story was in good hands and I didn’t regret a second of it.

We all know I’m a sucker for nostalgia. This film not only hit all those notes, but it wove a heartwarming new story around all those classic elements. I was tickled at the little nods here and there to the original as well as the care and reverence that was taken to stand Returns apart while keeping the same feel.

I tip my hat to director Rob Marshall (Chicago, Memoirs of a Geisha, Into the Woods) for navigating this particular minefield. If he hadn’t gone toe to toe with the studio (and won) to stick to the original hand-drawn classic animation style rather than CGI, I think this would have been an entirely different movie.

Speaking of animation; the hybrid scenes where Mary Poppins takes the children on flights of fantasy (because it wouldn’t be Mary Poppins without such adventures, right?) felt new but amazingly familiar, as if I’d been transported in time. I was reminded of the grand musical numbers of yesteryear. Modern audiences that complain about musicals are missing out, I tell you. There are a couple animated cameos that they snuck in if you’re watching close enough.

If the posters and trailer hadn’t already warmed me up to the idea of Emily Blunt (The Devil Wears Prada, Edge of Tomorrow, The Girl on the Train) stepping into Ms. Poppins’ shoes, all doubts were flung to the wayside as I watched. I respect that she reportedly took great care to familiarize herself with the series of books the stories were drawn from and made the part her own – rather than trying to recreate Julie Andrews’ (The Princess Diaries, Enchanted, Aquaman) version. That would have been impossible.

Besides, Dame Andrews went on record wholeheartedly endorsing the casting and turned down a cameo so that she wouldn’t distract from Blunt’s performance.

I was also quite impressed by the performance of Lin-Manuel Miranda (The Odd Life of Timothy Green, Speech & Debate, DuckTales). Aside from the fact that the man is a musical genius and talented beyond belief, I think he fit well in the role of the ‘leery’ friend of Ms. Poppins. If the sequel had turned to chimney sweeps again, I think the movie would have suffered. Part of the message of the movie, of course, is not judging a book by its cover. Such unlikely friendships only underscore that theme. He fit right in with all the Broadway-esque numbers.

All told, the film flowed very well and successfully transported me along with the Banks children into a world of fantasy and adventure. It wasn’t perfect (some of that Cockney Rhyming Slang was just rubbish made up for the movie), but it was heartwarming and well worth the time spent in both its creation and enjoyment.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 79%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 66%
Metascore – 66/100
Metacritic User Score – 6.7/10
IMDB Score – 6.8/10
CinemaScore – A-

Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating – 4.5/5

Movie Trailer:

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