Thursday, December 20, 2018

Movie with Abe: Mary Poppins Returns

Mary Poppins Returns
Directed by Rob Marshall
Released December 19, 2018

In an era of unending sequels, remakes, and reboots, it’s no surprise to see familiar classic fare revisited on the big screen. It’s not all that common for a sequel to be commissioned for a film released over half a century earlier, particularly because most of the new movie’s audience wasn’t alive when the original was first produced. Updating a concept that has become part of film history is a major gamble since fans of what exists have the potential to be disappointed, and the most important thing is to preserve the spirit of the source material.

Michael Banks (Ben Whishaw) and his sister Jane (Emily Mortimer) are grown and living in London, though Michael has fallen on hard times after the death of his wife and his worsening attempts to keep his family that consists of three energetic young children afloat. As he learns that he is going to lose his home if he cannot prove that his father left him bank shares, the unforgettable nanny Mary Poppins (Emily Blunt) arrives to help bring back the magic into their lives, with the help of local lamplighter Jack (Lin-Manuel Miranda), someone who has managed to grow up and preserve the idealistic attitude that he, Michael, and Jane had as children.

The marketing for this film celebrates the wondrous return of the title character, who is a staple of musical cinema whose many memorable songs have become immensely popular since Julie Andrews won an Oscar in 1964. Blunt inherits the role marvelously, delighting in the incredible presence the nanny has, effortlessly enlivening each situation with her soft signature touches. This film is fully aware that it is continuing a beloved story and aims high, recreating a lavish spectacle full of colors and sounds that do indeed make the impossible seem possible.

Blunt is deservedly on the road to her first Oscar nomination for this very fitting and endearing turn. Miranda, a Tony winner for “Hamilton,” doesn’t feel quite as seamless in his portrayal of the heir to the chimney sweeper role from the original, too prone to showy raps and other solo performances. This film, which runs long at two hours and ten minutes, achieves its best musical scene towards its enjoyable, affirming end, dragging a bit until that point despite some well-crafted visuals and decent songs that can’t quite match those from the original. This sequel is not unwelcome and manages to be perfectly entertaining, likely to win many audience members over more than this reviewer.


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