Mary Poppins Returns

I have to admit, I’ve never seen the original all the way through. It came out five years before my birth, and when it would run on TV as a kid, it was never of interest to me. I’ve seen all the popular scenes, of course.

I wondered if this movie was necessary, other than for Disney to rake in $100 million this holiday season.

I love what director Rob Marshall did with Chicago — which was brilliant. So my expectations were high. Until I remembered…he also did Into the Woods. I wasn’t as excited about Lin-Manuel Miranda (I think Hamilton is the most overrated thing in Broadway history). And I was more surprised to find out that it wasn’t him, but Marc Shaiman (Hairspray) that wrote some of the original songs.

P.L. Travers didn’t like the film version of her novel, and I’m guessing she wouldn’t have been thrilled with this sequel. It was co-written by John DeLuca, David Magee, and Rob Marshall.

Jane (Emily Mortimer) and Michael Banks (Ben Whishaw) are grown up, and Michael has fallen on hard times. He lost his wife, and is about to lose his house. Mary Poppins returns and looks after his three kids, John (Nathanael Saleh), Georgie (Joel Dawson), and Annabel (Pixie Davies).

in the beginning, my wife pointed out that the orchestral music for the opening credits didn’t work with the illustrations. That’s just one of many things that didn’t work. In Jack’s (Lin Manuel Miranda) second song, it sounds more like he’s rapping than singing.

Another one of my complaints with musicals is that I want to remember the songs. After seeing Chicago, those songs stayed in my head for days (and I bought the soundtrack).

Just as my complaint with The Greatest Showman — the songs just aren’t that memorable.

And just as I said about The Greatest Showman — it’s got lovely set and costume designs, but you need more from a musical.

Emily Blunt is solid as Mary Poppins, although it seems more like she’s doing an impersonation of Julie Andrews. Meryl Streep seemed like she was doing an impersonation of Madeline Kahn.

Colin Firth plays a great heavy.

The movie is uneven, poorly paced, and the script just isn’t that strong. Simply tipping your hat to the original in many ways, doesn’t give you a pass. You also don’t get to just throw in a lot of good cameos (Dick Van Dyke), and have us singing your praises..

The dance numbers aren’t shot particularly well, and it all just sort of reminded me of when The Bee Gees did the Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band movie in 1978.

1 ½ stars out of 5.

A spoonful of sugar may help the medicine go down…but nothing can help this movie [side note: I’m guessing there will be 743 critics that use the “spoonful of sugar” line in their review].




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