The original “Mary Poppins” is a ground-breaking cinematic achievement that is as magical today as it was in 1964. There’s no way a sequel could match it, and if this is the reason some people don’t like “Mary Poppins Returns,” they’re missing out on a story that this world, at this time, desperately needs and will probably fail to hear. “Mary Poppins Returns” isn’t about saving the children or saving the father; it’s about saving ourselves.
“Mary Poppins Returns” is similar to the 1964 “Mary Poppins” that it’s a sequel to. There are songs, hand-drawn animation combined with live action, a bunch of working-class men doing dancing in the most preposterous of ways, a female character fighting for a cause, a weird relation who’s facing an impossible affliction and a father whose situation has caused him to forget all of the things he learned as a child when Mary Poppins was his nanny.
From a time before the film was released, it was clear:
- Emily Blunt is no Julie Andrews.
- Lin-Manuel Miranda is no Dick Van Dyke.
- Meryl Streep is no Ed Wynn, but you might not recognize her either.
- Marc Shaiman is no Sherman Brothers.
I should probably repeat that last statement. There isn’t a tune that I was humming at the end of the movie. “Mary Poppins” gave us “A Spoonful of Sugar,” “Supercalifragilisticexpialadocious,” “Let’s Go Fly a Kite,” “Feed the Birds,” “Step in Time,” and “Chim-Chim-Cheree,” which won the academy award. “Mary Poppins Returns” gives us…
Whatever you’re doing this Christmas, go see “Mary Poppins Returns.” It’s grown up a little while keeping most of its innocence intact. (The “Book by It’s Cover” Sequence is a bawdy vaudeville style song.)