The Reel Review
A whopping 54 years after the original Mary Poppins made Julie Andrews a legend, Emily Blunt stars as the magical, airborne nanny spreading joy into the lives of the Banks family in London. In this sequel, Mary Poppins returns to remind the now adult Banks children and their young family members what it is like to experience happiness again, following the recent death of a beloved family member and despite the imminent bank foreclosure of their home.
Director Rob Marshall (Chicago, Into the Woods) meticulously ticks all of the boxes, using dazzling visuals to spruce up a formulaic yet gleeful, poignant story that ties together cute, albeit not all that memorable, musical numbers – the particularly fun “The Royal Doulton Music Hall” being the exception. But make no mistake – Emily Blunt, who typically makes every film in which she appears better, is sublime, injecting her own fun, mischievous personality into the role with perfectly timed, clever sideways glances and charming, infectious confidence. She is mesmerizing as Mary Poppins. Marshall’s blending of animation and live action (a nice homage to the original) is also exceptional, as is his inclusion of some fun cameo appearances that will elicit big nostalgic smiles among adults, as this heartfelt crowdpleaser, which stands well on its own merit, delights a new legion of young Mary Poppins fans. Well done.
• Calling Emily Blunt’s casting as Mary Poppins a wonderful decision, Julie Andrews turned down a proposed cameo appearance as the balloon lady, saying “this is Emily’s show, and I really want it to be Emily’s show.” Ironically, the balloon lady part ended up going to Angela Lansbury, whom had been considered for the title role in the original 1964 film.
• Director Rob Marshall had to lobby Disney executives to have hand drawn animation instead of computer animation in the sequel’s animation sequences, as an homage to the original film.