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article imageReview: ‘Mary Poppins Returns’ is a heartwarming holiday delight Special

By Sarah Gopaul     Dec 20, 2018 in Entertainment
‘Mary Poppins Returns’ is a whimsically seamless homecoming of a beloved character who still has a way of making everyone feel like it’ll all be okay.
While some movies provide meaningful commentary on the current state of affairs, others are pure escapist films designed to take audiences away from their problems and remind them of the good things in life. The former certainly has value, but sometimes you just want to enjoy watching a picture without having to think too much about it — especially around the holidays. Disney is very good at making these types of movies and this time they’ve reached into their library of classics to revisit a beloved character. The title, Mary Poppins Returns, speaks for itself as everyone could use a little extra care.
Michael Banks (Ben Whishaw) is now grown with three children of his own. A recent widower, his sister, Jane Banks (Emily Mortimer), stops by their childhood home often to help with the kids. Unfortunately, the stress of trying to do it all on his own has caused their finances to fall into disarray and now the bank wants to take the house. Mary Poppins (Emily Blunt) only appears when she’s needed and she was definitely required now. Arriving in typically magical fashion, she immediately takes charge of the children who’ve already been forced to grow up too quickly. In the meantime, Michael only has a few days to pay the full amount owing on his loan or they will lose their precious home.
The fact that the film is still set in the past, before the immediacy of current technology, contributes to its whimsy. The fantasy is also enhanced by the stunning, vibrant images and warm colours that envelop viewers. When not fretting about household affairs, the children can be found playing outside or amusing themselves with some outdated, hand-operated toy. Even though a lot of responsibility has been thrust upon them at an early age, their cynicism quickly gives way to awe when Mary Poppins takes over. In spite of the many years that have passed, she hasn’t lost her touch and still manages to make even the most menial chores enjoyable.
The film hits many of the same beats as its predecessor, including an enchanted trip under the sea, a dreamlike adventure into an animated world and more than one song-and-dance sequence. The parallels are so close that one can even say "Trip a Little Light Fantastic" is this movie’s "Chim Chim Cher-ee" as the gas lamp lighters are the new, delightful chimney sweep, while "The Royal Doulton Music Hall" is comparable to the catchy "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" and both have the potential for post-screening sing-alongs. "Nowhere to Go but Up” and "The Place Where Lost Things Go" are also memorable tunes, though their tones are quite different. Finally, it’s not surprising to see several of the new songs sample lyrics from the old ones since they are so closely related.
It’s fitting this should be a sequel rather than a remake as Mary Poppins — the character and the film — is eternal. Blunt does a wonderful job filling Julie Andrews’ shoes, perfectly capturing her firm but gentle approach to everything, as well as her motherly yet playful charisma. Meryl Streep makes an appearance as her bizarre, occasionally upside-down, fix-anything cousin with an equally fun song, “Turning Turtle.” Lin-Manuel Miranda is a cheery addition as the friendly neighbourhood lamp lighter, gleefully popping up whenever he might be needed. Even Dick Van Dyke rejoins the fun with a perfectly timed cameo and unbelievable dexterity.
It’s not often one can recapture the hope of their youth via a charming follow-up to a family favourite, but this is unquestionably one of those rare occasions that should be lovingly embraced.
Director: Rob Marshall
Starring: Emily Blunt, Lin-Manuel Miranda and Ben Whishaw
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