Okay, finally getting around to seeing the last few Oscar nominees on the list.
So, let’s just get this out of the way. MARY POPPINS RETURNS is not the original MARY POPPINS. Not even close. HOWEVER, it actually won me over. I am a huge fan of the original and was dreading this one. In fact, if it had not been nominated for multiple Oscars I might not have gone to see it at all. But, I’m actually really glad I did.
Is it a perfect movie? No. It has problems. A lot of problems. It’s too long, some of the performances are pretty stilted (Lin Manuel Miranda. Yikes.), and its far too slow getting going, but it makes up for a good many of its missteps by being wildly effervescent and refreshingly uncynical. It feels like a movie from a bygone era… and yet because of that, it also feels a bit old fashioned. And that is both a strength and a weakness. It has the spirit of the original, down to its lively musical numbers and brilliantly executed animated/hybrid sequence, but it also borrows a bit too much from the original. At times, it feels more like a remake than a sequel (in much the same way that FORCE AWAKENS feels a bit too much like a STAR WARS greatest hits.) There are moments (the wonderfully weird Meryl Streep “Topsy” sequence) that feel a bit too similar to sequences from the original (remember the “I Love to Laugh” sequence with Ed Wynn, Dick Van Dyke where they are floating around the room?) The gaslighting scenes are just a little too close to the original chimney sweep scenes. It doesn’t bringing enough new to the table to justify its existence.
And lastly — While Emily Blunt will never be Julie Andrews, I was pleasantly surprised by how wonderful Blunt is in this role. These were impossibly HUGE shoes to fill.
Oh, and it was a bit disappointing to see the BALLOON LADY character (first introduced in the Mary Poppins sequel book “Mary Poppins Comes Back” by P.L. Travers) played by Angela Lansbury instead of who the cameo role was actually written for… Julie Andrews! #marypoppinsreturns