Main cast: Emily Blunt (Mary Poppins), Lin-Manuel Miranda (Jack), Ben Whishaw (Michael Banks), Emily Mortimer (Jane Banks), Pixie Davies (Annabel Banks), Nathanael Saleh (John Banks), Joel Dawson (Georgie Banks), Julie Walters (Ellen), Colin Firth (William “Weatherall” Wilkins), Meryl Streep (Topsy), Dick Van Dyke (Mr Dawes Jr), Angela Lansbury (The Balloon Lady), and David Warner (Admiral Boom)
Director: Rob Marshall
The original Mary Poppins came out in 1964, a time when English films weren’t as widely shown in cinemas as they are now in this part of the world, and hence, I only first saw it when it came on TV as some Christmas special showing. I didn’t remember much of it other than Julie Andrews floating around holding an umbrella, but I thought it was a whimsical, cute film. I’m not sure what compelled the folks of Disney to have a sequel that comes out only 54 years later, other than to make me feel ancient because I’m pretty sure none of the generation that watched the original is clamoring for a sequel.
Michael and Jane Banks, the kids from the previous movie, are now the grown-ups and my goodness, if I were Mary Poppins, I’d take one look at what they have become and fly back up into the sky pronto while considering a career change to Mary Popping Pills because my god, I’d been a failure. You see, Michael married some woman and became an artist. Yes, this means the woman had to “manage the finances” (read: actually working to keep the big-ass roof over their impossibly big house for a family of such modest means) while he presumably wasted hours coming up with crap that couldn’t sell. Unsurprisingly, she soon died, probably from overwork and overload of resentment.
Left to his own devices, Michael forgets to pay the bank and now he has only till Friday to pay the full mortgage amount or lose the house. Michael is like oh no, he’s broke but he needs the big house because it is all he has to remind him of his dead wife. Oh wait, he remembers that he has shares in the bank, but surprise, he has no idea where the relevant documents are. He can’t even look for the documents in a dedicated manner despite the threat of losing the house because Michael is really that useless waste of flesh and an epic fail of a father. As for his sister Jane, she’s a labor activist! Yes, she’s not bringing in the money while leeching off his brother, so yes, the Banks kids have grown up nicely to make the previous movie a waste of time.
Then, we have the kids. One is the feisty miss, one is the nondescript older kid, and then there is Georgie, the twat who runs away and does stupid things without anyone giving him a paddle in the rear end. Watch as he grows up to be another useless bum like Michael and work a poor woman to death.
In the end, Mary Poppins shows up and fixes things while the kids race to save the house. There are dream sequences, fantasy bubble bath… things, and other expensive CGI-heavy sequences that are plonked in for the sake of showing me that Uncle Disney is wealthy and has a lot of money to waste.
I don’t know. I find this whole movie cheesy and even cringe-inducing at so many instances, probably because it is coasting on nostalgia and serving up a cold salami equivalent of a movie. Everything about it feels dated and awkward, especially when the adults break into song. I know they are trying to market Mary Poppins Returns as this year’s The Greatest Showman, but while the musical sequences in that other movie feel like a natural progression and integral DNA of the film, here the songs are flat and forgettable, and the musical sequences feel like it’s shoehorned in just because the original movie has musical sequences. Let’s put it this way: The Greatest Showman won’t work without its musical sequences, but this one may actually flow better without its musical sequences. And my goodness, does Lin-Manuel Miranda have to exude off-putting smarm each time he is on the screen? I don’t have Hamilton goggles on while watching this one, so Mr Miranda just comes off as unnecessarily showy, like that obnoxious kid in class who just wants all attention to be on himself and only himself.
On the bright side, Emily Blunt is pretty good in her thankless role of trying to walk in Julie Andrews’s shoes, although I feel that her Mary Poppins is a little more brittle and less likable than Ms Andrews’s Mary Poppins. The kids are shockingly non-annoying, even that brat that plays Georgie, although that’s probably because everything else about this movie is pure cheese and swill that distracts me from the bratty factor times three in this movie. Worst of all, the entire story line is as predictable as can be, and everyone here is a stereotype that doesn’t even try a little to deviate from the formula.
Oh well, Mary Poppins Returns and then she leaves. I don’t think I’ll miss her much.