With a star-studded cast and some big boots to fill, Disney’s ‘Mary Poppins Returns’ is the highly anticipated sequel to its predecessor, one which has taken the fanbase by storm.
The story begins some decades after the Banks children first encountered the practically perfect, magical Nanny. First, we meet Jack (3-time Tony award winner, Lin-Manuel Miranda) a cheerful lamplighter as he set’s the scene for the story ahead with the first of the movies’ brilliant original songs, ‘Underneath The Lovely London Sky’. Jack takes us on a journey through the streets of London as he dims the streetlights on his rounds, ready for a new day. His rounds bring him to the street light directly outside 17 Cherry Tree Lane where he waves to the Banks children as they watch him dim the lights from their nursery window.
Now all grown up, Michael Banks is a struggling, widowed Father of 3 on the verge of losing The Banks family home following the death of his beloved wife. His only hope of saving the house is to locate his father’s shares certificate in order to pay off the loan he took out against the value of the house. With the help of his sister Jane, Michael begins the search for the certificate as his children, John, Anabel and Georgie head out to buy groceries, After finding his wife’s jewellery box in the attic, Michael has an emotional conversation with his late wife as he continues to look for the certificate. Jane comes across their old kite from when they were children but Michael decides it’s time to let those memories go. He throws the kite away which is then picked up by the changing wind and takes flight.
On their way to the shops, the Children cut through the park where Jack is heading back from his rounds and notices the kite. The youngest of the Banks’ children, Georgie, also sees the kite and runs after it, losing his brother and sister. The wind is growing intensely stronger by the minute and Jack can sense something is about to happen. He continues to follow the kite and arrives just in time to save Georgie from being made airborne by the kite he has been flying in the gale force winds. With help from Jack, they begin to reel in the kite, The wind becomes even stronger making it increasingly more difficult when suddenly, a change in the weather reveals a certain Nanny at the other end of the string. This is where Mary Poppins makes her grand entrance!
The casting for the movie is, in my opinion, practically perfect! Emily Blunt had some big boots to fill with essentially the whole world waiting to see her portrayal of Mary Poppins and whether it could ever live up to Julie Andrews performance. Many people will say she hasn’t purely out of loyalty to Julie Andrews and the original movie, but I think she was incredible and brought a whole new take and personality to the role. Her voice is simply beautiful and I love that she was able to bring a little more sass to Mary Poppins and even some great comedic moments, such as in ‘A Cover Is Not The Book’. You can’t deny it was brave of her to take on the role with the die-hard fanbase that Mary Poppins has, in my opinion, Emily Blunt absolutely did it justice. You go girl!
Now we come to the legend that is, Lin-Manuel Miranda. You may have heard of him through various different platforms, be that as the playwright/lyricist/composer of Hamilton, Or as one of the composers of Disney’s ‘Moana’. When I heard that Lin was going to be in the new Mary Poppins film, I’ll admit I was a little bit excited! He is an incredibly talented human being and was perfect for the role of Jack the lamplighter. Lin was recently seen in an interview saying ‘If they didn’t like Dick Van Dyke’s Cockney accent, then they’re going to hate mine!’ However, Lin’s accent, admittedly not perfect, was pretty darn close to the real deal. Which is a lot more than can be said for Dick Van Dyke 😬
One of my favourite scenes from the whole movie is when Jack helps Mary Poppins and the Banks’ children find their way home in the fog. The song that ensues (Trip A Little Light Fantastic) is ‘Mary Poppins Returns’ answer for ‘Step In Time’ just as Jack (Lin-Manuel Miranda) is the movie’s answer for Bert (Dick Van Dyke) The song is brought to life with stunning visuals, atmosphere and lighting as well as an incredible dance routine that would make even the Newsies sweat.
Emily Mortimer and Ben Whishaw play the grown-up versions of Jane and Michael Banks. The casting for both roles was impeccable! Emily Mortimer was spot-on as the giggly Jane Banks and Ben Whishaw is so articulate and played the role of Michael Banks brilliantly. The new Banks children, John, Anabel and Georgie are played by young actors Nathaniel Saleh, Pixie Davies and Joel Dawson, each incredibly talented and an absolute delight to watch! As well as the core cast, there are also a smattering of big-names thrown into the mix such as Julie Walters, Colin Firth, Meryl Streep and Angela Lansbury to complete the ensemble!
I shan’t say any more about the story for fear of spoilers for those of you who haven’t yet seen it, but what I will say is I suggest you keep a pack of tissues or two with you when watching Mary Poppins Returns as it has some real tear-jerker moments, for example, when Mary Poppins consoles the children and sings them to sleep after they have a ‘bad dream’. The song she sings is called ‘Where The Lost Things Go’ and it is just beautiful and reassures the Banks children that their mother is always with them, they can simply find her in the place ‘where the lost things go’ **sobs uncontrollably** damn you, Disney!
Overall, I absolutely LOVED the movie, so much so that I have seen it twice already, What more can I say other than what a charming, beautiful and visually stunning film this really is. Mary Poppins Returns is a credit to the original film and dare I even say, I might just have enjoyed it a little bit more…