Movie Review – Mary Poppins Returns

I went to see Mary Poppins Returns on Christmas Day. We had our family “Christmas” on Saturday, so I was free to spend the day enjoying a movie at the theater with popcorn and a coke for my dinner…..well, to be fair, it was actually lunch and I made a pan of delicious scalloped potatoes and ham for my actual dinner later that evening, but you get the point! I love going to the movies on Christmas day and I’m always surprised to see how many other people also enjoy going to the movies on Christmas day – not sure why it still surprises me, but it does! I started going to movies on Christmas day years ago when life started making it difficult to spend Christmas on the 25th…..when kids become adults multiple families get in the mix and miles get in the way and you discover that Christmas isn’t a “day” – it is in your hearts and happens whenever family and friends can be together…..and, can even happen on multiple days! So, what started out as a way to forget that December 25th wasn’t being spent in a mad frenzy of family and gifts and food turned into a wonderful tradition that I have enjoyed for many years and actually look forward to! I start checking to see what movies will be opening on or just before December 25th to decide what I want to see that year! I usually look for something light, fun, and entertaining……and, I usually find just the right movie……well, except for the year Mom and I went to see Marley and Me when she was visiting me over Christmas in NC – what we thought would be a “feel good” movie about a cute dog left us depressed and sad the rest of the day…..LOL!!! This year, Mary Poppins Returns was my choice……and, I’m so very glad it was!!!

I started getting excited about this movie when I first saw the trailers announcing it was being made and would be released in late 2018!!! Mary and I have a nice bit of history and I couldn’t wait to see her come to life, again! Mom took me and my best friend, Cathy Pinson, to see the original Mary Poppins at the movie theater on Main Street in Albion for my birthday when we were in the 5th or 6th grade. It is my first memory of going to an actual movie theater – we’d been to the drive-in a lot, but I don’t really remember going to an inside theater before that movie – oh, I may have, but just don’t remember! Cathy and I were mesmerized by the movie — we were totally caught up in the magic and the awe that was Mary Poppins! Mom bought me the sound track album and I wore it out playing it and learning all the songs……Cathy and I would sing the songs over and over and over – we knew them all by heart – I can still sing most of them! Mom, Cathy, and the Albion theater are all gone, now, but that day was on my mind as I drove to the theater and waited for the movie to start……and, I truly felt Mom and Cathy there with me for the show!

I was happy to see they didn’t “remake” the original – that would have been a mistake! They made it a sequel…..a continuation of the original story with many of the original characters…….and it was perfection on the screen! They kept the mix of live action and animation – which, of course, it had to in order to stay true to the story – and, with the modern advances in technology, the wild adventures that Mary takes the children on were even MORE magical and fun without losing the vintage appeal of the original (no flashy special effects – it is still Mary Poppins, after all)! I told a friend I was going and she said she already saw it and that I would LOVE it – her response to my question “Is it as good as the original?” was the best summary of the movie – I can’t say it any better, so I’ll plagiarize her……”it is enough of the same to be familiar and enough new to be different – but the same”….or words to that effect! 🙂

For those who are not aware……..the story this time is that Michael and Jane Banks have grown up and Michael is a widower with three small children and a housekeeper named Ellen (which, ironically, is the same name as the housekeeper they had as children). Michael, who lives in the family home with his children, has fallen on hard times and is at risk of losing the home. Along comes Mary Poppins to save the day! And, the next two hours are full of song, dance, and magical adventures!

Emily Blunt was amazing……she truly was the perfect choice to play Mary Poppins! Her look, her expressions, and her demeanor were spot on! I always enjoy seeing her in movies – her role in A Devil Wears Prada helped to make that movie great – second only to Meryl Streep’s character! So, I knew she’d make an awesome Mary Poppins……and, she did! This time, Mary’s sidekick is Jack – a lamplighter on the streets of London – played brilliantly by Lin-Manuel Miranda. Michael and Jane are played by Ben Whishaw and Emily Mortimer, respectively, and are just as you’d think Michael and Jane would be like as adults! Pixie Davies, Nathanael Saleh, Joel Dawson play Anabel, John, and Georgie Banks – Michael’s children – and they are just lovely! The absent minded housekeeper, Ellen, is a hoot – she is played perfectly by Dame Julie Walters (one of the three best friends on Mama Mia and Mama Mia, Here We go Again!). There is also an evil banker played by the wonderful Colin Firth and his bumbling sidekicks! Yes……there is a stellar cast with amazing performances and excellent characters brought to life brilliantly!

But……that’s not all……there are three cameo appearances that brought absolute joy to my heart to see……..first, Mary Poppins takes the children to visit her cousin Topsy – a delightfully whimsical character played by Meryl Streep! Then……I won’t give away the circumstances or when in the movie it happens, but Dick Van Dyke returns as the elderly son of one of the characters he played in the original movie – Mr. Dawes, Jr (he played Bank President, Mr. Dawes, Sr. in the original) – when he appeared, the audience in the theater applauded and when he “did his thing” (not spoiling it), the audience cheered and applauded with glee!!! What a treat!!! And, finally, Angela Lansbury appears as the Balloon Lady and was a pure joy to see!

OK, so…….I guess I don’t really HAVE to say it, but it is part of all my reviews, so here goes……..I loved this movie!!! It was the perfect way to spend my day! It met all my usual criteria for determining if it was a good movie – I laughed, I cried, I fell in love with the characters, and I left feeling good…..and, wanting to dance my way across the parking lot to my car!!! And, yes……I think Mary Poppins helped with a bit of magic for me, as well, as I did feel like Mom and Cathy were right there enjoying the movie with me…..we just had more comfortable seats this time! hehehe

I rate this movie a solid A+++++!!! I highly recommend it……go see it……I don’t care how old you are or if you ever saw the original or not…….go and let the magic seep into your imagination and lift you to heights only a balloon (or kite) can take you……and, at least for a couple hours, remember what it was like to be a kid and have an imagination that had no limits! Yes, it is a wonderful children’s movie…….but, it is so much more…….this 62 year old guarantees it!!! After all……per Mary, herself, “Anything is possible! Even the Impossible!”

And, here’s the trailer……

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