‘Mary Poppins Returns’ review: A spoonful of sugary nostalgia
A classy return, Rob Marshall’s Mary Poppins Returns is. A classic, it is most probably not.
The filmtreads the same grounds as Robert Stevenson’s beloved 1964 musical to the point that it looks very much like a devoted offspring to a far more successful father. As a result, it bears almost the same charms and passions, resulting in more or less the same kind of enjoyment made more resonant with more than just a spoonful of sugary nostalgia.
What it sadly lacks, however, is a distinctly refreshing identity.
Marshall’s Mary Poppins, played by Emily Blunt makes her grand appearance aboard a kite being chased by the Banks children after a sudden surge of wind. The P.L. Travers-penned character remains to be a well-dressed deus ex machina, as she shows up like she did in the previous film at the right place and the right time. (READ:Emily Blunt puts spoonful of British class into Mary Poppins)
This time, Michael Banks (Ben Whishaw), now decades older and disastrously deflated by the Britain’s great slump, is desperately debt-ridden and is about to lose his family home to conniving banker William Wilkins (Colin Firth) and his gang of lawyers. Assisted by her sister Jane (Emily Mortimer), now a labor rights activist, Michael tries his best to juggle being a single parent to his restless children while slaving away as an employee to the same bank that is trying to take away his house.
His only way out of the mess is to find the stock certificates his father owned.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to deduce that the miraculous maiden from the skies isn’t just in town to teach Michael Banks’ children to enjoy a bath but also to save his family from possible homelessness with her positive vibes and giddy magic.
Proven pleasant stuff
With Marshall’s sequel veering very closely to Stevenson’s original, it is almost as if it invites its audience to compare.
Clearly, Jack, the suspiciously observant lamplighter played by an exuberant Lin-Manuel Miranda, takes the place of Bert, the chimney sweep played by Dick Van Dyke. There is also a sequence that has Mary spirit her wards inside the hand-drawn world of a broken piece of china, which is reminiscent of a sequence where Mary brings a younger version of Michael and Jane inside one of Bert’s pastel-painted street-side artworks.
In Stevenson’s film, Mary teaches the children to find joy in cleaning their room with a silly song about how sugar makes the medicine go down. In Marshall’s update, Mary sings about how a bit of imagination can make bath time more like a vacation than a chore.
It is all proven pleasant stuff. The most glaring problem here is that it just isn’t pleasant enough. Take away the convenient pleasures of nostalgia, of being transported back to an age where silly song and dance numbers can uplift by their sheer purity and spectacle, and what’s left in Mary Poppins Returns are enjoyable but unmemorable dainty distractions.
Easy to forget
Mary Poppins Returns is undoubtedly a good time in the cinemas.
It just wouldn’t have its young viewers reminiscing of the time they first saw it, while humming melodies and reciting its famous alliterations. Mary Poppins’ return is just very easy to forget. – Rappler.com