“Mary Poppins Returns”

LOUISA:  2 STARS


LOUISA SAYS:

If anything, “Mary Poppins Returns” proves that the House of Mouse is a dependable charm machine when it comes to live action musicals. The new original songs don’t fare as well. Most are dreadful, which is shame because the singing is quite good from all the actors.

Far be it from Disney to muck with a tried-and-true formula. Set in 1930s London, this film introduces three new Banks children and their dad Michael (Ben Whishaw) and aunt Jane (Emily Mortimer), the original characters who are now grown and dealing with their own real world problems on Cherry Tree Lane. Appearing on cue when she’s needed, Mary Poppins (Emily Blunt) reappears to help the Banks family once again.

Filling the shoes of Dick Van Dyke as Bert in the 1964 screen version, Lin-Manuel Miranda is an optimistic lamplighter named Jack. Jack likes to sing and dance and smile because gosh darn it, it’s a beautiful day! Miranda is a charming and immense talent, but is squandered with the mediocre tunes he’s given to perform. There’s a particularly cringe-inducing semi-rap number with animated penguins that reeks of capitalizing on his “Hamilton” fame.

Some decent stunt casting (that includes Meryl Streep as eccentric cousin Topsy and Colin Firth as a ne’er-do-well banker) temporarily livens things up. Streep’s upside-down musical number is one of the most enjoyable in the entire film.

The story and tone is dated and old-fashioned, which may be welcomed by some but shunned by most. The original framework of the beloved book series by P. L. Travers is there, but with bits and pieces of attempted modern sensibilities added in. Not helping matters is that Mary isn’t much of a likable character, an uptight and slightly pompous nanny who just so happens to have a bag full of tricks. The fantasy sequences, including an extended bit that is set underwater and one that’s inside an animated world populated by animals, are visually acceptable but mostly seem antiquated.

Emily Blunt is the brightest star, her bewitching take on the magical nanny is spot-on. Blunt feels like she was born to play the role. The remainder of the cast ranges from good (Mortimer and Streep) to annoying (Miranda) to something akin to fingernails scratching against a chalkboard. The kids are adorable with a wide-eyed creepiness that seems as if they were manufactured to order at the Disney child actor factory.

The film has an agonizing two hour plus runtime that causes it to become a joyless endurance test as it goes on and on for what feels like eight days straight. It’s so long I kept wondering when it would finally end. You will absolutely feel every single second that ticks away in the theater.

The prolonged musical numbers, coupled with uninspiring songs, ultimately prove to be the film’s downfall.

30 comments

  1. I’m not much into what critics have to say…you all seem to wear your glass-is-half-empty hats when you ANALYZE a movie. But for the rest of us who watch a movie because we choose to be entertained, well we should be the real voices people listen to.

    I took my three children to see this movie, ages 13, 11, and 9, and we all four loved it!! Not having watched any previews I assumed it was a remake of the original, only using current actors and using better graphics, etc. I was pleasantly surprised by the story line. It was a progression of the original. Mary Poppins returns to help the children of the adult male character whom, as a young boy Mary Poppins took care of in the original, Michael Banks. Great story line. Gorgeous costumes. Fun!!! The people in the theater clapped when it was over. So happy we saw it in the theater versus waiting to watch it at home because some of the scenes were so full of color and action that to see them on a large movie screen made it that much more enjoyable.

    Great movie to take your kids or grandkids to see!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I clapped when it was over as well. Because it was finally over. My family thought it was unfathomably boring to the point of being painful. This critic is dead on in her assessment about the seconds ticking down. I couldn’t agree more and will trust your reviews going forward.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you for the kind comments, Chris. Sometimes I am against the popular opinion on some films, but I really, really wanted to like “Mary Poppins Returns.” It honestly felt like it went on and on and on for 8 hours!

        Like

  2. This writer’s perspective comes from a jaded stance. I felt similarly to her about the original Mary Poppins so I get it. Now, older, wiser and more open hearted, I simply went for the ride and loved it, and found Emily Blunt’s interpretation of the role as insouciantly sassy and sexy.

    Like

    1. And your view is marred by a faded remembrance of the originals masterpiece status. The new one undeniably pales.

      Like

      1. It didn’t miss the mark. It wasn’t perfect, but neither was the original.

        You came into it with wrong expectations, and entirely missed the wonder of it. And now, as a critic, you feel the need to tear it down for everyone else. Such a shame.

        Like

      2. I feel zero need to tear a film down, but I just didn’t like it at all. And that’s okay, my job as a critic is to write my own opinion and give criticism to movies I see. Can’t love (or hate) them all.

        Like

  3. Reading this review was a joyless and tedious experience. I just saw the movie with two women and they were enthralled by it as I was too. Thank God for creative people and thank goodness small-minded people are easily forgotten. Nothing ;about this movie missed the mark. The songs will never live in your head but I enjoyed them all the same. Much like the original, I actually cared for the characters and was absolutely convinced that Blunt was the best choice for this role and hopefully this will launch her career beyond B-rated movies and stand-ins for lesser actors and actresses. Lin-Manuel Miranda was absolutely marvelous and he is a major talent that will finally be recognized. Sorry but I think you need to open your eyes because it’s obvious, you don’t recognize magic when you see it.

    Like

    1. You’re just an amateur with amateur taste. The original is a masterpiece. This new one fails except as a minor diversion with bad songs. Not one good song!!!

      Like

    2. A joyless movie….which I liken to a could be beautiful painting but the colours are all washed out. Not one memorable song…started looking at my watch 30 minutes in. But my wife loved it…go figure.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I thought it was fantastic. True Disney magic with great songs and imaginative sequences. I loved the heart of the movie and the message of hope. I’ve seen it twice and was thoroughly entertained lol

    Like

      1. Thanks so much for commenting. I did give the soundtrack another listen and I still don’t enjoy the songs. I do think it’s great that so many seem to like it.

        Like

  5. I didn’t think this movie would ever end. It was a chore to sit through it.
    Too bad Lin Manuel Miranda did not write the lyrics. I was disappointed in the music.

    That being said, Emily Blount was amazing as Mary Poppins and Lin Manuel Miranda brought much to his role.

    The storyline built on the original film nicely as well.

    Even these three things could not save the film from itself.

    I have to agree with your review.

    What a disappointment in a film I wanted to love.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Please allow a different perspective…. as a kid my sister and I wore out our Mary Poppins LP (youngsters can pause to google). I went to MPR looking forward to a family outing…..and had a warm fuzzy 2 hours of nostalgia and a few sappy tears. I enjoyed it so much I went back 2 days later and took my 80 yo mom. Was it practically Perfect? Nope…. but I found it a delightful sequel with fun callbacks to the original, and enjoyed the heck out of it, cranky critics notwithstanding.

    Like

  7. If the original were to be released today, you would have many of the same criticisms. George Banks was intolerable. The children aren’t particularly appealing. And its plot was thin and haphazard in many of the same ways.

    The original is a classic for three reasons: 1) (some of) the songs, 2) the leads, and 3) the blend of live and animation.

    As a film, I think the new one is actually a bit more human, more joyful. It’s not a perfect film, but I really don’t understand what there was not to appreciate. Easily 4 stars if not higher.

    Like

    1. Thanks for the comment, Clay! To be fair, I also am not a fan of the original movie either. I tried to enjoy this one and it was tedious for me. I do think it’s great that so many enjoyed it; there have been lots of movies that I loved and others didn’t.

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s