Mary Poppins Returns takes place 25 years after Mary Poppins, pop culture’s most famous nanny, first arrives on Cherry Tree Lane. The sequel to the childhood classic doesn’t diminish the specialness of the original, and most importantly, Emily Blunt’s performance pays homage to Julie Andrews, the original M.P. Mary Poppins Returns isn’t competing for our childhood memories. Rather, it’s inviting a new generation to become enchanted with London’s magical nanny while reminding the rest of us why we fell in love with the original.
Now adults, Emily (Emily Mortimer) and Michael Banks (Ben Whishaw) still reside at 17 Cherry Tree Lane, along with Michael’s young children, Anabel (Pixie Davies, George (Joel Dawson), and John (Nathanael Saleh). With his wife’s passing, Michael has come undone, forcing his children to grow up faster than they should. Things turn worse when their home faces foreclosure at the hands of banker William Weatherall Wilkins (Colin Firth). One day while playing with their father’s old kite, the Banks children watch in awe as Mary Poppins descends from the London sky. With help from the Banks children, a lamplighter named Jack (Lin-Manuel Miranda), and her cousin Topsy (Meryl Streep), Mary Poppins restores Michael’s faith in the impossible and saves the Banks family from financial ruin.
Director Rob Marshall is no stranger to on-screen musicals. He’s directed some of the most popular musicals in recent years, including Chicago and Into the Woods—which also starred Emily Blunt and Meryl Streep. His ease and expertise transform Mary Poppins Returns into a bright, charming, and memorable tribute. It helps that the songs featured in the sequel possess the same playfulness as classics like “A Spoonful of Sugar” or “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.” My personal favorites from Mary Poppins Returns include “A Cover Is Not the Book” and “Turning Turtle.” I also really enjoyed “A Conversation” and “The Place Where Lost Things Go,” both of which are tearjerkers.
Mary Poppins Returns was only to going to be as good as the actress they cast in the title role. After watching the movie, I’m convinced that Emily Blunt was the only actress capable of taking on the role that helped make Julie Andrews a movie star. Emily Blunt isn’t reinventing the wheel in Mary Poppins Returns, but you can tell that she’s handling the role with the utmost care. Some may criticize her for not making the role her own, but did we really think she was going to try to outshine a legend? Lin-Manuel Miranda encounters a similar obstacle. His character Jack is a reincarnation of Bert (Dick Van Dyke). While he’s not a replacement for Dick Van Dyke—who has a quick cameo—he will face comparisons. Fortunately, both Blunt and Miranda bring their own talent and charisma to these iconic roles.
Mary Poppins Returns has something for everyone, and will leave you singing and smiling the whole way home.