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Movie Review: Mary Poppins Returns

Updated: Jan 8, 2019

| by Winter Lawrence |

Mary Poppins Returns

Description: PG | Musical | Family | Adventure | Fantasy

Starring: Emily Blunt | Lin Manuel Miranda | Colin Firth

Winter’s Forecast: 4 Flurries!

The Story: 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.

Winter’s Review: Let me preface this review by emphasizing that this movie isn’t a remake. It’s a sequel. With that being said, I’d also like to remind everyone of that old adage…you know, the one that claims a sequel is never as good as the original. In some instances, that motto doesn’t necessarily apply, but in this instance, sadly, it’s true. Mary Poppins Returns is a good movie, but it’s missing something.

First, let me make something emphatically clear here—this movie is spectacular. Emily Blunt truly was born for this role. She embraces and embodies the spirit and pizzazz of Mary Poppins in a way that will make any fan proud. Lin Manuel is equally enchanting. His performance reminds us of his astounding talent as an actor, singer, and dancer. Meryl Streep makes a surprise appearance as Mary Poppins’s cousin and steals the show—she’s amazing! Dick Van Dyke makes a cameo appearance and blows his song and dance routine out of the water. We all cheered him on during his magnificent performance. And Colin Firth plays a splendidly delicious big, bad wolf! Loved him!

As a musical, this movie has it all—breathtaking costume design, astonishing set design, extraordinary choreography, huge, spectacular dance numbers that make you bop along in your seat, and a soundtrack that’s repeat-all and repeat-often worthy! If you’re a musical junkie, this movie will not disappoint.

It sounds great, right? So why the glum note? Well, it’s because as a movie, the storyline itself isn’t entirely bad, but there are some issues. The gist of the plot is that Michael and Jane are all grown up now. Jane, at the very least, is doing well. She’s following in her mother’s footsteps as a political activist and she’s living her life to the fullest as a happy, single woman—or as happily as a person can live in depression-era London.

Michael is an entirely different story.

He’s recently widowed and has three small children, which in and of itself is a tragic situation that is further compounded by his inability to maintain the family home or financial security. As the movie progresses along, we learn that he’s grown up to be an unemployed, unsuccessful artist who was entirely dependent of his wife and who now has no idea how to handle life without a strong woman leading him around by his collar. It’s really quite sad and it becomes downright frustrating as he wavers between being a spineless, whiny coward to an irate and slightly abusive reincarnation of his late father. And don’t even get me started on that mustache. Ugh. Between his poorly constructed storyline, his poor acting, and his overall unappealing appearance, I had to melt away half a flurry.

I bet you’re wondering where that other melted half a flurry went? Well, folks, I hope you’re sitting down for this because what I’m about to tell you is disturbing. Whew. Here it goes…Mary Poppins is not in Mary Poppins. Yes. You read that correctly. Mary Poppins, a.k.a. Julie Andrews, does not make an appearance in the film. I waited through the entire end credits, just sitting there, dumbfounded when she hadn’t made an appearance in any of the scenes. I mean, Angela Lansbury makes an appearance—and before you run off to Google if she was in the original, take my word on it, she wasn’t. So, while it was nice to see her, and while she had a lovely little part, she is not, obviously, Julie Andrews.

So where was Julie, you’re wondering? Well, I asked myself that same question and couldn’t be happier to have had a fully functioning phone the moment the lights came back on in the theater. Here’s the deal. There are a lot of stories out there about why Julie didn’t make an appearance, but my favorite explanation, and thus the one that I will share, is that Julie Andrews didn’t make a cameo because she didn’t want to distract from Emily’s performance. She wanted the spotlight to be on the current Mary Poppins, not on the previous one. Well, that’s noble, Julie. Really. But we all wanted to see you—if even for a minute, so here’s what I’m hoping: that when I buy the movie in a few months (because it’s worth owning), I’ll pay a little extra for the director’s cut (or some such other cool rendition), and there will be a bonus scene where Julie Andrews magically appears in one of the scenes, practically perfect in every way, and exactly where she should have been all along!

* * * * *

Winter’s Forecast runs on a Five-Flurry Rating System, with five being a perfect storm of fantastic acting, astounding storylines and film components, and an all-around amazing movie-going experience. Here’s the rest of the breakdown:

One Flurry—Near White-Out Conditions: Don’t brave the cold, rent it instead!

Two Flurries—Hail Storm: A few good bits, but mostly worth dodging!

Three Flurries—A Blizzard: Worth the hype, but proceed with caution!

Four Flurries—A Nor’easter: It packs a punch but misses it by that much!

Five Flurries—The Perfect Storm: Stop reading and go watch it already!


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