Movie review: Mary Poppins Returns - a spoonful less sugar but still sweet
This sequel to Robert Stevenson's 1964 musical piece is best for those who have yet to watch the Julie Andrews original.
Director Rob Marshall plays it safe, following its predecessor closely.
Set in the Great Depression, the story focuses on the now-adult Banks children, Michael (Ben Whishaw) and Jane (Emily Mortimer).
Michael is a single father of three precocious children, forced by circumstances to grow up too quickly, while activist Jane is a great support to her emotionally and financially strapped brother.
Because of Michael's inept ability to manage money, the family is heavily in debt and on the verge of becoming homeless, no thanks to unscrupulous banker Wilkins (Colin Firth).
However, the winds change and Mary Poppins (Emily Blunt) floats in to save the day - literally.
While Mary Poppins Returns is by no means less entertaining and Blunt does a tremendous job playing the perfect nanny, there is something lacking - perhaps it is missing Andrews' unique brand of magic.
For one who grew up with Andrews' spoonfuls of sugar, comparisons naturally arise.
For starters, the songs in this follow-up are not as memorable.
Absent is the groundbreaking classic Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, the heartwarming Feed The Birds (Tuppence A Bag) or the waltzy Let's Go Fly A Kite.
The catchy tunes I do remember from this movie are Trip A Little Light Fantastic and Turning Turtle, but not because they are outstanding in themselves, but because of the people delivering them.
The former is a toe-tapping number, thanks to the fabulous Lin-Manuel Miranda as a cockney lamplighter, while the latter makes an impact because of Meryl Streep, who plays Mary's hilarious cousin Topsy.
Besides sharing spot-on chemistry with Miranda, Blunt brings much sass and humour, often throwing a sarcastic eye that makes her Mary different from Andrews' - and it works perfectly, making her a worthy successor. This musical is a timely family film for the season. - 3 Ticks
MOVIE Mary Poppins Returns
STARRING Emily Blunt, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Ben Whishaw, Emily Mortimer, Colin Firth
DIRECTOR Rob Marshall
THE SKINNY Supernanny Mary Poppins (Blunt) returns after 20 years to help the Banks family again; this time, a grown-up and widowed Michael (Whishaw) who is on the verge of losing the family home.