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MOVIE REVIEW

Mary Poppins Returns

also known as “Mary Poppins 2,” “El regreso de Mary Poppins,” “Il ritorno di Mary Poppins,” “Le Retour de Mary Poppins,” “Maija Poppasen paluu,” “Mary Poppins Dönüyor,” See all »
MPAA Rating: PG-Rating (MPAA) for some mild thematic elements and brief action.

Reviewed by: Charity Bishop
CONTRIBUTOR

Better than Average
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
• Kids • Preteens • Family • Teens • Young-Adults • Adults
Genre:
Music Fantasy Adventure Comedy Family Sequel
Length:
2 hr. 10 min.
Year of Release:
2018
USA Release:
December 19, 2018 (wide—4,090 theaters)
DVD: March 19, 2019
Copyright, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures click photos to ENLARGE Copyright, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures Copyright, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Relevant Issues
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Featuring: Emily BluntMary Poppins
Meryl StreepTopsy—Mary Poppins’s eccentric cousin
Angela LansburyBalloon Lady
Emily MortimerJane Banks—Michael’s sister
Ben WhishawMichael Banks—Jane’s brother
Colin FirthWilliam Weatherall Wilkins—the current president of Fidelity Fiduciary Bank
Julie WaltersEllen—Michael’s housekeeper
Dick Van DykeMr. Dawes Jr.
Lin-Manuel MirandaJack—a lamplighter
David WarnerAdmiral Boom
See all »
Director: Rob Marshall —“Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides” (2011), “Chicago” (2002), “Memoirs of a Geisha” (2005)
Producer: Lucamar Productions
Marc Platt Productions
Walt Disney Pictures
See all »
Distributor: Walt Disney Pictures
Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

It’s taken fifty plus years for a sequel to one of Disney’s most beloved films to arrive on the big screen, but this splendid musical is well worth the wait.

Life is a bit dour on Cherry Tree Lane since Michael Banks (Ben Whishaw) lost his wife. An artist at heart and banker by day, he’s left to tend his three energetic and high-spirited children alone—the by-the-book, cautious and logical Anabel (Pixie Davis), the reliable and sensible John (Nathanael Saleh), and the idealistic and adventurous Georgie (Joel Dawson). Michael’s sister Jane (Emily Mortimer) helps whenever she can get away from her social causes.

The same day the sink bursts in the Banks’ kitchen, two lawyers arrive from the bank to nail up a notice on their front door. Unless Michael can pay back the loans he took out to cover his wife’s deathbed expenses in full, the bank will repossess the house. Left with few options, he despairs. But just when the hour seems its most dour, a wayward kite blows the “practically perfect” Mary Poppins (Emily Blunt) into their lives. Along with a street lamp lighter named Jack (Lin-Manuel Miranda), she brings magic once more into the Banks household, in her quest to reunite Michael with his childhood optimism and delight and save them all from ruin.

As memorable as it is whimsical, this film sparkles from start to finish with unexpected cameos, charismatic performances, toe-tapping musical numbers, colorful costuming amid the bleak London atmosphere, and a childlike sense of innocence and wonder. It follows most of the cinematic beats of the original (complete with a hand-drawn animated sequence, a band of merry lamplighters showing off their dancing skills, and a dramatic confrontation at the bank), while introducing new songs and faces.

There are many subtle throwbacks to the original, sometimes in the form of one-liners, which I’m delighted to say tickled the children in the row behind me. It plays out as an over-reaching plot arc with a series of vignettes woven throughout as Mary Poppins opens the children’s eyes to seeing things “in a different light.” For me, the music is not nearly as memorable as the original numbers, but it’s a minor flaw in an otherwise entertaining film full of hope, innocence, optimism, and cheer.

There’s not much to concern families in terms of immoral content—one song references a woman who wore little more than a fig leaf, making a joke out of “when you go bare there’s not much to steal,” and referencing her “birthday suit.” Mary Poppins’ cousin makes a couple of flirtatious remarks about Jack, as does the cook (“I’d say he’s lit her fire!”); a woman makes a pun out of “bottoms” (her backside).

The children face mildly perilous situations on two occasions (being kidnapped, and chased by villains).

The magical content is the same as in the earlier film. Mary takes the children on magical adventures—into a ceramic bowl and an underwater world. She slides up staircases on the railing, sends people whirling into the air holding balloons, and flies to and fro with her umbrella, with nary a hint of where her magic comes from.

As in most Disney movies, the message is that family is more important than wealth, good always triumphs over evil, and you should never lose hope. Mary teaches the children, their father, and her cousin the importance of learning to look at things in a new and optimistic way, rather than allowing troubles to make them downcast. She orchestrates events so the Banks family learns lessons and saves themselves along the way. She also scolds their bad manners… and is a delightful character in her own right—a little egocentric, compassionate but firm, and above all, adventurous.

It’s a fine film and, I suspect, one the adults who grew up with the beloved Julie Andrews original will have as much fun watching as their children.

  • Violence: Minor
  • Vulgar/Crude language: Minor
  • Profane language: None
  • Sex: Mild • comments noted above • subtly suggestive lyrics in song “A Cover Is Not the Book”
  • Nudity: None
  • Occult: Mild

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Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Positive
Positive—I was very skeptical of the idea of a sequel to “Mary Poppins,” as the original is so good on its own. However, my expectations were surpassed. This does give the original a run for its money at times. Emily Blunt is a terrific Mary Poppins, and the story and songs succeed in staying true to the spirit of the character and the original film. On the downside, it’s a little over the top at times too, and sometimes a bit stagy.

Like the original, the film encourages close family relationships as well as honesty and finding the joy in life, regardless of the circumstances.

There’s very little here in terms of content problems. There’s a few mildly adult lyrics in the song “A Cover is Not the Book” (“when he wasn’t on the sauce… ,” “where she only wore a smile, plus two feathers and a leaf… ,” “when you’re in your birthday suit, there ain’t much there to show you’re rich”). There’s a somewhat perilous chase scene shortly after that song. A maid says the British profanity “bloody” towards the beginning.

In the end, I feel this is a sequel Walt would have been proud of. It has the “classic Disney feel” all over it. Bravo! :)
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
Blake Wilson, age 24 (USA)
Positive—Although not as good as the original, “Mary Poppins Returns” is delightful. Like the original reviewer said, there are throwbacks to the original, while giving a unique spin on the story with original musical numbers and occasional trips to fantastic places. Emily Blunt and Lin Manuel-Miranda are perfect in every way as Mary and Jack.

There is hardly anything offensive about the film, but I was disappointed that there weren’t any covers of songs from the original film. I would’ve loved to see a “Supercalifragalistic” duet between Mary and Jack.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
Shannon, age 37 (USA)
Positive—A worthwhile successor to the original, classic “Mary Poppins” film. We viewed it as a family (our son is nine, and, from the age of three or four, at one time used to watch the first Poppins over and over), and it was refreshing to see a true, U certificated family film with (hardly any) bad language, nothing that could offend, no gender fluidity rubbish, no attack against the family and so on, as modern Disney fare has started to do. The dance hall scene was a little risqué, but only to knowing adults and in keeping with real dance hall patter.

A great homage to the original, but also it stood on its own. The glittering orchestrations, songs maybe not as memorable as the original (good to see Richard Sherman getting a credit onscreen), but I found myself tearing up precisely because of the song and underscore melodies and arrangements (as well as seeing Mary coming down from the sky and (spoiler alert), Dick Van Dyke’s turn) which here and there referenced phrases from the Sherman Bros” original compositions. It was also great to again see a real title sequence (referencing the original’s art and design of Peter Ellenshaw) in a modern film (doubling as the musical overture)!

Spoiler alert, although Julie Andrews chose not to appear, as she thought viewers would keep saying “there’s the real Mary Poppins,” she could easily have taken on the excellent role portrayed by Meryl Streep, being a relation of Mary (if her voice would hold up…), and I don’t feel it would have caused an issue.

The only negative was the actor portraying the adult Michael Banks; he was just too dissimilar to the (sadly departed) child actor who played Michael in the first film, one couldn’t believe it was the same person, diegetically speaking. Overall, his part of the plot and his feelings were almost the same as the adult Christopher Robin we saw in the recent film of that name.

Biblically, nothing to offend and family was the important thing here. A great pre Christmas treat and one left the cinema elated—what more could one ask of a film?
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 5
Dirk Wickenden, age 51 (United Kingdom)
Positive—Thanks Christian Spotlight for your review. I agreed.

“Mary Poppins Returns” ticked all the boxes for my friend and I when we saw it this morning. It was a true delight in the same way as the great musicals of yesteryear, such as the original Julie Andrews version, but with very little corniness. The songs began smoothly and attracted no groans from other cinema-goers. Laughs, gasps, whispers of recognition and smiles abounded. Casting was of top quality and the emotions in each actor’s face were believable so they took our hearts on a journey. It was lovely to revisit the feel, characters and locations from the original “Mary Poppins.”

A few points had slightly dark and scary action so may be unsuitable for sensitive children below 9 or 10 years of age, especially if afraid of fire, heights or animals. I believe “Mary Poppins Returns” is a true family movie, but may be best for tweens and teens, and of course older viewers who remember the original. It does contain many wise lessons and one-liners.

Overall, a brilliant movie which I’m sure is a new classic!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
Ruth, age 32 (Australia)
Positive—I enjoyed this movie. It was a good family movie, one that the entire family can go without having to deal with either violence or sexual innuendos. It followed, fairly faithfully, the pattern of the original movie, though the songs will probably not stick in the memory as the original songs did.

There were some great song and dance routines, and it was good to see all those cameo’s in the movie.

It did reveal a father’s love for his children; though at one time it did get a bit prickly, yet the love shown through. Mr. Banks came to realize that his greatest inheritance (one might say) was his kids, and his sister came to realize that there were other things that were more important than the latest political issue.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 5
David Quin, age 68 (USA)
Positive—I saw this movie with my oldest granddaughter and my youngest daughter! We enjoyed it—going on New Year’s Day so much that I would say it was one of my finest New Year’s experiences! My granddaughter’s father (our son) had experienced the first Mary Poppins in 1964 and expressed his joy in seeing it then. The music was so terrific and fun to listen to “time and time again”!

Of course, Julie Andrews was the GREATEST—BAR NONE! Also, Dick Van Dyke who was also terrific in “Returns”! However, Emily Blunt did a fantastic job and has a beautiful voice. I did like her “no nonsense” attitude. Those people couldn’t get by with anything—which was “inspiring”! in this day and age when so many people are so lax and don’t seem to care how they treat people, etc. See all »
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 5
Marykay, age 81 (USA)
Neutral
Neutral—I have seen “Mary Poppins Returns” twice. The first time I couldn’t enjoy the plot because of all of the (razz mataz) which was too long and some of it just didn’t make sense. I loved the balloon song. I much disliked Meryl Streep’s part. I loves Dick Vandykes’ part. The children were adorable and Jack was really good. Mary P not so much. The second time I saw it, I construed on the plot and closed my eyes on the RM part.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 3
Jodeen Aven, age 90 (USA)
Neutral—I loved the beginning—the true Disney magic! However, the movie was much too long! At least a half hour could have been cut: dance routines just went on and on, and entire scenes (like Meryl Streep) could have been completely cut. A good movie leaves me wishing for more, not breathing a sigh of relief that it’s finally over.

Also, why wasn’t Julie Andrews cast at Mary Poppins, if it was “Mary Poppins Returns?” Having a new Poppins just didn’t work for me; and it didn’t work for the basic idea of this movie, following the life of now grown Jane and Michael. The return of Dick Van Dyke at the end, was delightful, and he’s 93! Andrews is only in her 80s; and I’m certain she can still sing!

A secular world view is definitely presented throughout, which I would expect… the idea of “mother going where the lost things go,” and being a star in the sky is quite sad, because it’s just not true. Death brings an eternal destiny, according to Scriptures. The hope of the resurrection in Christ gives meaning to life as well as death.

The vaudeville number, “A Cover is Not a Book,” had a hint of bump and grind, which was inappropriate. And like most of the dance routines, was just too long.

So, overall, rather disappointing, but better than I expected. Cheers to the original “Mary Poppins”—incomparable.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
JJ, age 66 (USA)
Response from editor—Sadly, due to a surgical disaster, Julie Andrews now has a much more limited vocal range and difficulty in holding notes. The vocal cord damage was irreparable, and she was “devastated.” She has said, “If you wanted a rendition of ‘Old Man River,’ you might get it, but I’m not singing as much these days.” She coped by devoting her life to other areas of creativity, particularly writing popular children’s books.

She turned down any part in “Mary Poppins Returns,” including a cameo, saying, “This is Emily’s show and I want her to run with this. She should run with this. This is hers. I don’t want to be on top of that. …This is Emily’s version of her [Mary Poppins], and I don’t want it to be that she’s playing Mary Poppins the whole way through, but then I come in, and there’s like, oh, but there’s the real Mary Poppins, you know?”

In 1997, when Andrews was popular on Broadway in “Victor/Victoria,” she underwent recommended elective surgery to remove noncancerous nodules on her finely-tuned vocal chords (a condition that she says is a fairly common problem for professionals who sing loudly and daily for many years on the stage). The surgery was botched in some way, and she sued for medical malpractice and received a settlement in 2000.
Neutral—“Mary Poppins Returns” is fine. They managed to pay homage to the original, while creating a new experience for today. The music is adequate, while at times forgettable. Emily Blunt is a standout talent—as she consistently proves. I just cannot overlook the missed opportunity for a cameo. They clearly included it in the script, but they could not make it come to fruition. This movie will make for a perfectly suitable family movie night… though it will probably be forgotten.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 3½
David Cook, age 40 (USA)
Negative
Negative—I was shocked by one line in a song that Mary and Jack sang “on stage” during the Royal Dalton musical while they were inside the bowl world, which was about 1 hour into the movie. Jack sang a line went something like, “and lobbed off their heads and put them on posts.” I was utterly shocked that they would put such a ghastly imagery in a children’s film. What was their horrific point of telling this to children?

I was also put off by the life threatening antics when Jack was teetering a hundred of feet up in the air on a tiny ladder used as a plank to be bounced up into the clock face. This can make kids take deadly risks thinking it’ll be fine if they do something like that.

Then there was the bike tricks on fence rails. This can also make kids think they can do the same because bike tricks are not imagination… like the scenes where kids are romping around undersea or flying up the air in balloons. Not only are bike tricks like this dangerous for kids, but bike and skateboard tricks are known to damage property.

Lastly, it was just way too long for me, let alone kids. The Royal Dalton stage performance and the bike trick performances could have been cut out. They didn’t help the storyline and weren’t age appropriate in my opinion.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
Beverly Bruce, age 55 (USA)
Positive—This is in response to Beverley Bruce's comments. With all due respect, although I am very careful about which films my nine year old sees, I think you’re being a little over sensitive, in terms of the bike and other stunts shown onscreen. This film was light and airy compared to most dark, modern fare—which we and my son avoid. It’s no worse than those in the original film. Also there are many old nursery rhymes with imagery such as Three Blind Mice’s “she cut off their tails with a carving knife” and “Oranges and Lemons” “here comes a chopper to chop off your head” and the Royal Doulton (not Dalton) music hall song was no different to that-I missed the heads on post line, actually, I don't recall the lyrics of the song.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 5
Dirk Wickenden, age 51 (United Kingdom)

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