Many people were worried Emily Blunt wouldn’t live up to Julie Andrews’ original version of Mary Poppins, but Blunt delivered a fresh and original adaptation of the character that left the audience feeling supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.
Mary Poppins Returns centers around the Banks children, Michael (Ben Whishaw) and Jane (Emily Mortimer), who are all grown up. Michael has children of his own and the family has recently lost their wife and mother. When the bank decides to repossess their house in case Michael can’t pay off a loan in five days, the family falls into a panic, sending Mary Poppins to save the day. From there, adventure ensues.
The film brought so much happiness. It was filled with songs that made you laugh and songs that made you cry. From the whimsical adventures, including the magical bathtub and the land of “mother’s China bowl” to the reality of real-world hardships, Poppins was an expert in warming hearts and knowing just what to say to ease your mind or solve a tricky situation.
Blunt has delivered outstanding performances before, including her roles in The Girl on the Train, The Devil Wears Prada and , but this might be one of her best yet. Blunt came at the role with so much life and sass and a little bit of sweetness to balance it all out. Of course there were some similarities between Andrews’ and Blunt’s performances, but mostly they revolved around the general demeanor of Poppins: serious, but full of a sweet and magical nature.
There were also similarities in their props, including the bottomless bag and the tape measure that tells Poppins she’s “practically perfect in every way,” and their phrasings were similar too, such as “spit-spot.” However Andrews’ role was usually met with her sweet nature bleeding out into every line, where as Blunt was slightly more sassy and spunky — traits that delivered a fresh interpretation to the role. It was obvious that Blunt was in no way trying to mimic Andrews’ performance, which was much appreciated. For this sequel, no one could’ve done this role justice the way Blunt did.
One of the great treasures of this film is Blunt’s costar, Lin-Manuel Miranda, who plays Jack. Jack along with the other learies, or lamp-lighters, in the film deliver a dance performance with energy to match the original’s “Step In Time.” Miranda is famous for being able to rap well, so it’s no surprise that the composers threw in a rap for Miranda to wow the audience with. His high energy and sweet nature made his performance unforgettable.
Of course the cast also included some powerhouse talents like Colin Firth and Meryl Streep. Firth’s performance as the villain was slightly disarming due to his usual good-guy persona in many of his roles. Streep’s performance as Poppins’ cousin, Miss Topsy, was also a delight. From her accent to her outfit, everything about Miss Topsy was outrageous.
Perhaps the most exciting part of the movie were the cameos from two very prominent actors. First was Dick Van Dyke, an especially exciting appearance for fans of the original Mary Poppins, who played Bert the chimney sweep. The other exciting appearance was from Angela Lansbury, who played the Balloon Lady. Lansbury is well known for her performance in the television series Murder, She Wrote.
The sequel was certainly not a disappointment. The soundtrack was entirely original, with whimsical and delightful songs that carried the audience every step of the way through the magical journey. In regard to the first Mary Poppins, Mary Poppins Returns was more magical and was able to pull the audience in because of the improvement in animation techniques since 1964. In short, Mary Poppins Returns was practically perfect in every way, and a must-see this holiday season.