4.12 out of 5 Stars
In the surge of Disney recreating (or revamping) their classics, I distinctly remember what it was like when the trailer for Mary Poppins Returns first came out: people were beyond thrilled. Now, huge disclaimer... I'm not a huge Mary Poppins fan. I love Julie Andrews, and I liked the original movie, but I was never and still am not in love with the story or the character like I know a lot of people are. So for me, when the trailer came out it was more just a, "Oh, that's interesting," and as a blip on my radar that this was Disney's Christmas movie for the year.
(Completely random side note-- but I feel like I need to write a post about all of Disney's live action films and just sort of rant. I'm excited for some of them, like Aladdin and Mulan, but for real there's too many coming out overall.)
There was definitely a sort of light magic that was carried throughout the film. I have my worries about Disney as a whole at the moment in this regard, but watching this movie helped ease some of them. It was just good to see whimsy. Not comedy, not strong emotion, just whimsy. And original creativity. Yes, it is a continuation from a previous idea, but it was still different enough to be its own sort of story.
Another thing that I really enjoyed was the music. This may be an unpopular opinion... but I think I like this soundtrack more than the original soundtrack. But I mean, c'mon, "A Cover Is Not the Book" may be one of the best Disney songs ever written. Of course I'm partial because clearly I love books and all things literary related. You're reading this on a book blog for goodness sake. In all seriousness though I was blown away by the soundtrack. It was as vibrant and varied as the colors and emotions of the whole movie. The songs are catchy and Lin Manuel Miranda and Emily Blunt have wonderful voices.
Seeing Dick Van Dyke in this movie was fan-tas-tic. I may have not been a huge fan of the original Mary Poppins movie, but I loved Dick Van Dyke as Bert. He was easily my favorite character of that whole film, so it was amazing to not just see Bert's apprentice (Lin/Jack) but to actually see Dick Van Dyke IN. THE. FILM. Of course he was playing a different character, but man oh man did he own his role and choreography. It was such a great tribute I think I may have cried when he came on screen.
While so many things about this movie were great, there were just one too many moments where it got too dark for my taste in this genre and the acting seemed a bit awkward at times. Emily Blunt was amazing; never once did I not believe that she was Mary Poppins. But some of the other adults threw me off a little.
I also feel like I need to mention the costuming and overall design of the movie. The animation was perfectly nostalgic and rightly so because as I understand it they actually brought back the original animators from the first movie to do it again in this movie. But looking at Emily Blunt's wardrobe only, the pieces and small details are so stunning. The colors bring such life alone that combined with Emily's performance the entire screen was lit up with exuberance.
Mary Poppins Returns is of course a children's film, but let's be real: everyone could learn a lesson from watching Mary Poppins. It also makes me want to say that anyone who has kids or works with kids should see this film, because they are the Mary Poppins of the real world and children need to learn to embrace the imagination and enjoy their lives. We live in a immensely crazy world and you can see the strain of our world in children's eyes sometimes. It is truly tragic and the adults are the ones that can do something about it.
Thanks for reading!