A long awaited remake
By Aaron Reynolds
Hollywood has really, really liked its remakes and sequels for decades now so it is hard to imagine why it took so long for Disney to recreate the magic of “Mary Poppins”, a film that debuted over a half-century ago.
Was the studio anxiously waiting for the ideal actress to become the next Julie Andrews? Did Disney want to bring back several odes to the original, including a Dick Van Dyke appearance? Did the composers feel pressured to write catchy tunes that were able to live up to the Oscar winning score of the first film? Were they seeking a fresh new angle, such as what the creator of the groundbreaking “Hamilton” could bring to a sequel?
Disney most definitely had their hands full with the new “Mary Poppins Returns”, yet it appears the wait was worth it as “Mary Poppins Returns” does what few musical sequels are ever able to accomplish — an enduring, entertaining reboot.
Many would agree that the original “Mary Poppins” ranks among one of the greatest musicals ever adapted for the big screen alongside “The Wizard of Oz” and “Singin’ in the Rain”.
“Mary Poppins” was able to represent everything Disney stood for in 1964 — wholesome storytelling with a fantastical element and cutting-edge filmmaking. The musical blended animation with live-action, and introduced so many irresistible songs that many can still recite them in their entirety some 55 years later. It was indeed groundbreaking.
No, the new “Mary Poppins Returns” may not shake and rattle Hollywood in any profound direction, but what it does is sustain a legacy and not resemble something that was produced merely for a cash-grab.
Emily Blunt takes over the reins of the title character and dazzles with a spectacular performance also enhanced by a well-rounded cast.
Unlike a lot of sequels, “Mary Poppins Returns” does not pick up shortly after the conclusion of the first installment. Instead, audiences are asked to skip 24 years ahead. We are now in 1930s depression-era London. The Banks children have all grown. They are grieving the loss of Michael’s wife when Mary Poppins returns to 17 Cherry Tree Lane.
Along with some new friends (“Mary Poppins Returns” features plenty of A-list guest appearances), Poppins (Blunt) and Jack (“Hamilton” creator Lin-Manuel Miranda) form a new talented duo that sing, dance, entertain and delight the Banks family into rediscovering the joy and wonder missing in their lives.
“Mary Poppins Returns” is half sequel, half reboot. With an original so famous and beloved, “Mary Poppins Returns” has a lot of throwback to the original including an appearance from Dick Van Dyke. All of the ingredients from the original are carefully sprinkled into the sequel/reboot in order to provide the same classic family experience.
A catchy, enjoyable music score? Check. Enthralling dance numbers? Check. Stylistic production and set pieces? Check. Plenty of nostalgia yet enough freshness to make “Mary Poppins Returns” its own work of art? Check.
The new musical is old magic drummed up again for beloved fans of the original and a new generation that brings the entire family together for a Christmas wonder.
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