As Bert bid Mary Poppins “farewell for now” there would have been many over the ensuing decades that wished for the return of the mercurial nanny. Some fifty-four years later that wish has been granted with Rob Marshall’s Mary Poppins Returns.
From the first moment there was an inkling that the famed nanny could be revived it was an equally exciting and skeptical prospect. After all, the great Dame Julie Andrews brought the P.L. Travers character to life and ensured that she be remembered with the type of reverence and wonder that has made her one of the most iconic film characters of all time.
Marshall, who also directed Oscar-winning musical Chicago,brought to life a well-crafted and well-acted sequel while paying homage to the original. As Jack the lamp-lighter Hamilton’sLin-Manuel Miranda delivers a joyful performance in a sequel with several nods to its predecessor. Appearances from Colin Firth, Angela Lansbury and even Meryl Streep certainly add to the film but none are more nostalgic than the presence of Dick van Dyke who starred as Bert in the 1964 prequel alongside Dame Julie Andrews.
It shouldn’t be underestimated what a tall order it is to step into the shoes of Mary Poppins. But Emily Blunt is incandescent in everything she does and it’s especially true as Mary Poppins. Not only does she carry the film but, along with a lovely singing voice, proves herself to be a glittering successor. In fact, she’s practically perfect in every way.
There are those that have concluded that Mary Poppins Returns lacks the magic of the first film. But perhaps if they weren’t so overtly obsessed with finding what is wrong with the film they too would see the magic that it brings to a desperately cynical world. It is sentimental in the best way imaginable and will effortlessly bring an honest smile to your face.
At the core of the film is the message that life is to be appreciated and savoured and that one should always make time to stop and smell the roses or in this case the cherry blossoms. Mary Poppins Returns is utterly charming and magical in every way.