By Michael P Coleman
No, I’m not losing my mind and, no, I didn’t have too much egg nog this Christmas. Well, maybe I did — but that’s not why I’m talking about a movie that’s 54 years old. You see, I’d not seen the original Mary Poppins until about a week ago. Upon learning about Disney’s long-overdue sequel, Mary Poppins Returns starring Emily Blunt and Lin-Manuel Miranda, I thought I should do a little research to get ready for it.
I walked away from that living room screening with two revelations: I understand why Julie Andrews won an Oscar in 1965 and became a star, and the suits at Disney were out of their mouse-eared minds to try to reboot that franchise. The original is an absolute masterpiece. Why subject Blunt & Co to that comparison?
Similarly, I walked out of the screening of the new Mary Poppins Returns with a newfound appreciation for Blunt. The actress achieved the near impossible and evoked all of the charm and wonder that Andrews did in her portrayal of the eccentric British nanny. But then, as Poppins herself says, “everything is possible…even the impossible!”
Blunt had me smiling from ear to ear for almost the entire two hours of the film. Mary Poppins Returns is a welcome respite from the cares of our world, and everything a holiday movie should be. But Blunt didn’t do it alone. Miranda, of Hamilton fame, is superb as a watered-down version of the chimney sweep that Dick Van Dyke played in the original movie. In fact, all of the film’s supporting cast, most notably Emily Mortimer from HBO’s Newsroom, rise to the occasion, creating a gem for our time and introducing a literary character who’s almost 100 years old to today’s families.
Mary Poppins Returns is chock full of surprises, one of which being the movie’s rousing score. Composer Marc Shaiman (Hairspray) has composed originals that seem to rhyme, as it were, with the original film’s Sherman Brothers songs. Yeah, I didn’t believe it, either. I caught myself singing a couple of those new songs before the sequences were done. They’re that catchy. I dare you to to keep your foot still during “Trip A Little Light Fantastic.”
As the end credits rolled last night, I realized that it was the first time in a number of years that I didn’t want a movie to end. I know it’s low-hanging fruit, so I’ll beg your forgiveness: Mary Poppins Returns is practically perfect in every way.
Mary Poppins Returns is in theaters everywhere.