They got this sequel right. “Mary
Poppins Returns” is every bit as winsome and stellar as the original,
and is a delight both to the ears and the eyes.
The lamplighter, Jack (Lin-Manuel Miranda) is still singing as he
attends to the lights around London, every dawn and dusk, but the Banks
family has fallen on hard times. Michael
(Ben Whishaw) has taken out a second mortgage on the house, and he's
fallen behind on his payments. Though
his father was an officer in that bank, the current President, Mr. Wilkins
(Colin Firth), is merciless. He
has declared that he's going to exercise a clause in the contract that
says the bank can foreclose on the house, promptly at midnight on Friday.
Michael is crestfallen, but so is his sister, Jane (Emily
Mortimer), who's been helping around the house with the three young
children, after Michael's beloved wife died.
There's just enough sadness in the context to offset the silliness.
Michael is short-tempered with the children, and doesn't even
remember being lighthearted like a carefree child himself.
But then Mary Poppins returns.
She looks like she hasn't aged a bit---because Emily Blunt is
reprising the famous Julie Andrews role.
We don't expect her to sing like Julie Andrews, of course, but
actually her voice is quite melodious, and she carries the tunes nicely,
as well as a bit of dancing thrown in with the singing.
The three children are themselves worth mentioning:
Anabel (Pixie Davies), John (Nathanael Saleh), and Georgie (Joel
Dawson) are all winsome and endearing, and can sing well enough
themselves, as well. There are
three cameos that are well worth embracing, as well:
Meryl Streep as Topsy, Angela Lansbury as the Balloon Lady, and
Dick Van Dyke as Mr. Dawes, Jr., who dances on top of the desk, even at
Lin-Manuel Miranda not only wrote “Hamilton,” he's also one of
the very few to win an Emmy, a Tony, and a Grammy, and he may well
complete the “EGOT” grand slam by winning an Oscar here. His
performance is luminous. Emily
Blunt is also marvelous in the lead role, and deserves awards recognition
of her own.
“Mary Poppins Returns” is one of those brilliant films that can
be heartily recommended for all ages.
It's not only suitable for the whole family, it's uplifting.
And that can be said about only a very few special films.