ANTICIPATION from Mary Poppins’ fans of the 1964 Disney original has been palpable since the studio announced the making of an all-new sequel, based on the P.L. Travers classic.
The suspense only grew in 2016 when Emily Blunt was cast as the title character in Mary Poppins Returns, inspired by the subsequent adventures of Mary Poppins across the remaining seven books in the series.
With such high expectation, it is a relief to say that Mary Poppins Returns delivers in spectacular style from the moment lamplighter Jack (Broadway talent Lin-Manuel Miranda) illuminates the opening scene and immediately transports the viewer in glorious style to the 1930’s streets of London during ‘The Great Slump’, finishing at 17 Cherry Tree Lane.
Jane (Emily Mortimer) and Michael (Ben Whishaw) Banks are adults, raising the next generation of Banks children, Annabel (Pixie Davies), John (Nathanael Saleh) and Georgie (Joel Dawson), following the recent death of Michael’s wife.
With questionable help from housekeeper Ellen (Julie Waters), the children have taken on more responsibility than is fair following their personal loss, further exacerbated when Fidelity Fiduciary Bank issues a notice of repossession on the house, care of William Weatherall Wilkins (Colin Firth).
Cue ‘practically perfect’ nanny Mary Poppins who floats back to bring joy back to the Banks family with the help of her friend Jack, Bert’s former apprentice.
Marc Shaiman’s music score with lyrics by Scott Wittman is reminiscent of the original film, tipping its hat to the past while also capturing new wonder in songs including The Royal Doulton Music Hall, The Place Where Lost Things Go, Trip A Little Light Fantastic and A Conversation, Can You Imagine That?
In a film where everything is possible, even the impossible, Mary Poppins Returns continues the magic in ‘spit spot’ fashion with never a moment of ‘pish posh’ and a few treasured characters in cameo performances that will make your heart sing Chim Chim Cher-ee.
Mary Poppins Returns (G)
Directed by: Rob Marshall
Starring: Emily Blunt, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Emily Mortimer, Ben Whishaw
Four and a half stars
Reviewed by Tanya MacNaughton
In cinemas January 1