Holding grudges against it won’t hold up because the film survives all major criticism

With scepticism at its absolute peak, Mary Poppins Returns had an incredible legacy to live up to. However, with two sides of a fan base to please, it certainly wasn’t an impossible job for director Rob Marshall to create a brand new, well loved, family film. The younger audience, perhaps fans of the original or hadn’t even seen it, would be raring for a good old-fashioned family film full of fun, songs, and emphatic joy. The other side, the older, more experienced group, will have childhood memories, pre-decided ideas of what they want the film to be, and set an unimaginably high bar for Mary Poppins Returns to reach. Heck, some will have hated the film whatever it was because it exists. Yet, there is room in the preamble to discover how to create a genuinely quality production and Marshall has done that. Sort of.

Handed a notice of repossession for his home with just seven days notice, Michael Banks (Ben Whishaw) must find the certificate of ownership for the shares he was given in the local bank by his late father. Desperate to save his home, Michael and sister Jane (Emily Mortimer) need to concentrate solely on finding them, eating up all of their time. So, in exactly their moment of need, a strange wind blows and a mysterious woman going by the name of Mary Poppins (Emily Blunt) appears to nanny for Michael’s three children. However, Mary’s appearance does not guarantee the safety of the house just one bit.

Mary Poppins Returns 2

Mary Poppins Returns is not the original. Nor should it be; this is a different time. Yes the film is based in a similar time period but there needed to be updates, changes and differences to give this version of Mary its own life. There are absolutely flaws, and they should be noticed. The dance routine coordination is not tight. The story is overly strategized, with far too much emphasis on progressing the plot, rather than looking into the magnificent characters Mary Poppins brings with her. Yet, by bringing in more story work, is this a change for a modern, plot-hungry audience? It’s hard to be sure but it certainly changes the style of film quite drastically from the original.

Emily Blunt has taken the brunt of the criticism, but largely that is unfair. If she were a fresh doctor on Doctor Who, she would be granted a larger time frame to set herself into the role, but because changing the actress playing Mary Poppins is simply unprecedented, Blunt was given an impossible task. One she deals with through class and admiration. Her Poppins has even been described as ‘kinda bitchy’ which is impeccably closed minded. Never was she going to be Julie Andrews, so don’t shirk her for that.

Outrightly, it is a thoroughly enjoyable film, and without Emily Blunt or Lin-Manuel Miranda it would not be the quality picture it is. Does it miss the sparkle 1964’s original has? Of course it does. But what it creates, and what it passes as its own works, playing a wonderful family tune. Flawed or not, Mary Poppins Returns is here, and holding grudges against it won’t hold up because the film survives all major criticism, and in this case that is actually very hard to deny.

4/5

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