Nostalgia puts the proverbial magic into the past. It transports you back in time and fills you with a sense of wonder and awe. Mary Poppins Returns, a sequel 54 years in the making, is a burst of power-packed nostalgia, buzzing with the old-school charm of Disney musicals. If you thought, La La Land (2016) was a breath of fresh air, director Rob Marshall’s Mary Poppins movie has the sway and the quirk to swing you off your feet. Emily Blunt’s pitch-perfect performance and the film’s visuals-rich details make it an experience worth remembering.
One of the first things you notice about Mary Poppins Returns is the musical sound stage of the movie. The music by Marc Shaiman reminds you of the way films were scored during the golden age of Hollywood. The slightly dialled-up orchestra sounds of the film are a masterful nod to movies like The Wizard Of Oz, The Sound Of Music and of course, the original Mary Poppins, too. Songs like The Place Where Lost Things Go and Turning Turtle are simply fantastic. Pity then, that Lovely London Sky squanders the talent of actor Lin-Manuel Miranda and doesn’t live up to its inspiration – The Life I Lead from the original 1964 film, either. But overall, the music of Mary Poppins Returns is supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.
The film features solid supporting performances by actors like Colin Firth and Meryl Streep. Streep and Blunt, in particular, create a surreal but wonderful experience in the song Turning Turtle. The kids, played by Joel Dawson, Nathaneal Saleh and Pixie Davies are perfectly cute. But this film belongs to Emily Blunt as the nanny who just pops in on a kite. Her performance has the right balance of dry wit and pure charisma. Watch out for a crazy cameo by 93-year-old Dick Van Dyke, dancing like a spring chicken.
Director Rob Marshall is the authority on musicals, he’s directed movies like Chicago, Nine and Into The Woods. So he’s perfectly at home with the song, dance and elaborately detailed choreography of Mary Poppins Returns. The film is a homage to Julie Andrews’ original and this 2018 version, with a bizarrely satisfying and unabashedly pastiche approach, is a pure delight for children and adults alike.