Mary Poppins Returns is a spoonful of sugar as it offers delight and nostalgia for audience members of all ages.
Returning to the big screen, siblings Michael and Jane Banks (Ben Whishaw and Emily Mortimer) are now adults and leading lives of their own during The Great Slump of the 1930s, some twenty years after the first Mary Poppins. And, like most adults, they’ve grown up to do more important things, leaving the follies of childhood behind. Michael Banks is now a father with three children, who are dealing with the recent death of their mother, and he is doing everything he can to keep things together so they don’t lose their home and livelihood. Jane, on the other hand, is single and has thrown herself into activism, but she maintains herself as a source of support for her brother and her niece and nephews.
The Banks children, the new ones, are Anabel (Pixie Davies), John (Nathanael Saleh), and Georgie (Joel Dawson). They quickly catch on to their father’s troubles, despite his efforts to conceal them, and set out to do what they can to help him.
This is where Mary Poppins (Emily Blunt) reintroduces herself. She returns to nanny for the Banks children. Poppins knows just what is needed to get their spirits up and to intervene in her own magical way.
Taking the place of Bert (Dick Van Dyke) from the original Mary Poppins, Jack (Lin Manuel Miranda) is a lamplighter who, from a distance, knows the Banks family and is very familiar with Mary Poppins. He is not surprised to see her when she appears. Jack joins the children on their adventures with Mary Poppins and finds himself assisting her in a number of ways throughout the movie. Much like Van Dyke’s Bert, Miranda puts on a faux British accent that stands out from the rest of the cast, although it is not nearly as obnoxious.
Similar to the original, the villain in Mary Poppins Returns is quickly revealed to be a banker, Mr. Wilkins (Colin Firth).
Dick Van Dyke also makes a brief appearance at the end of the film.
Emily Blunt does a great job in faithfully reprising Mary Poppins and Lin Manuel Miranda, even with his cheesy accent, helps to give this new story some flair. Miranda even offers some of the rap he has come to be known for, although it is much more subtle than in his other work.
Mary Poppins Returns is a rousing sequel full of color and fun. The mix of live-action and 2D animation, although it comes close to being 3D, transports viewers to a bygone era of visual storytelling that is simply meant to be fun and surreal.
This film also has some cameos from other well-known actors, such as Angela Lansbury and Meryl Streep. The latter of these two, however, feels out of place and her presence in the story is entirely forgettable. While she sings a fun number, it could have just as easily been done by somebody else, or it could have been cut out of the movie altogether.
If you are looking to take the children out, Mary Poppins Returns can do no wrong. It will also be a treat for any adult who loves the magic and music of Mary Poppins.